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T.S. Eliot’s impersonality : a study of the personae in Eliot’s major poems McNeal, David Stuart 1976

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T. S. ELIOT'S IMPERSONALITY: A STUDY OF THE PERSONAE IN ELIOT'S MAJOR POEMS by ; DAVID S. MCNEAL / M.A., Purdue University, 1963 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN THE REQUIREMENTS DOCTOR OF PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF FOR THE DEGREE OF PHILOSOPHY i n the Department of English We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August, 1975 0 David S. McNeal, 1976 In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , I a g r e e that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y , t f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y p u r p o s e s may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f English  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date March 30, 1976 •Li ABSTRACT This thesis i s a study of T. S. E l i o t ' s "impersonal" theory of poetry, p a r t i c u l a r l y as i t affected his own poetic work. To t h i s end i t focuses upon E l i o t ' s personae i n order to demonstrate the extent to which his concern with personality influenced his poetry and, i n addi-t i o n , how the theory and the poetry developed together throughout his career. E l i o t ' s o r i g i n a l d i s t r u s t of personality i n poetry was based upon two d i s t i n c t , though related, tenets. F i r s t , he held that poetry (indeed, a l l art) i s - - o r should b e - - " i d e a l " i n the c l a s s i c sense. That i s , i t should r e f l e c t the type, not the i n d i v i d u a l , the form, not the personality, the absolute, not the transient. Second, he distrusted human nature i t s e l f , and therefore doubted the value of the ind i v i d u a l human personality. The f i r s t of these tenets, the poetic theory, re-ceived i t s f i r s t and most extreme a i r i n g i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent"; the second, the view of human nature, coloured most of the early poetry. The re s u l t i n g d i s t r u s t of human personality, combined with E l i o t ' s clear knowledge of the temptations of romantic self-expression, led him to develop a series of personae and other poetic devices with which he could disguise his own voice. At the same time, however, E l i o t was concerned with exploring the lim i t a t i o n s of the human personality. Consequently, most of the early major poems--"Prufrock," " P o r t r a i t of a Lady," and "Gerontion," for example--employ impersonal narrators i n order to examine, i n part, the excesses and f a i l u r e s of personality. <CoC In The Waste Land Eliot's characteristic dramatic narrator began to become less distinctly apparent, though E l i o t was s t i l l reluctant to use his own voice. And although in the Ariel poems he returned to the genre of the dramatic monologue, he began to investigate the possibility of human salvation rather than of human hopelessness. At the same time, i n Ash Wednesday he began to record his own personal record of spiritual doubt and hope. This development reached i t s conclusion i n the Four Quartets where by reconciling his own limited human experience with an absolute and eternal world, he was f i n a l l y able to speak freely of his own l i f e i n his own voice without lapsing into the romantic fallacies he feared as a young man. TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 The Eternal Enemies of the Absolute: Prufrock and Some Others Chapter 3 No Contact Possible to Flesh: Impersonality as Lost Passion Chapter 4 And Each Confirms a Prison: Impersonality as Anonymity Chapter 5 And After This Our Exile: Looking to Death for What Life Cannot Give Chapter 6 You Are the Music While the Music Lasts: Life of the Spirit Among Men Selected Bibliography V ACKNOWLEGEMENTS I would like to thank many people who contributed to my interest in and understanding of Eliot's poetry and who assisted in the preparation of this thesis through discussion, advice and criticism. I am particularly grateful to my thesis supervisor, Professor Keith Alldritt for his patient encouragement and guidance, and to the members of my thesis committee, Dr. James A. Hart, who saw me through much of the final preparation of the thesis, and Dr. Paul G. Stanwood, whose advice about the fovJi QuaAtoj&> was particularly helpful. I would also like to express my thanks to Dr. Robert Tener of the University of Calgary for his advice about Robert Browning's dramatic monologues. CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION When early in his career Eliot wrote for the readers of the Egoist that: Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; i t is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality, he announced an "impersonal theory of poetry" which has been associated with his own poetry ever since. His assertion that "Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation are directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry" has become a central tenet in modern literary criticism. Undoubt-edly the shift of attention from the poet to the poetry is one of the most important contributions Eliot has made to modern criticism, and i t has been, quite rightly, studied in great depth by critics of Eliot's work. However, this impersonal theory of poetry has often been oversimplified and misunderstood. That Eliot's own attitude about the relationship between the poet and his work changed continually throughout his l i f e is an indication that the question is a complex one. This study proposes to investigate Eliot's concept of the poetic personality, both in general terms and in relation to the creation of his own poetry. The primary emphasis will be upon the major poetry, and particularly upon Eliot's use of the persona. The purpose of such a 2 study i s to arrive at a clearer understanding of the poet's attitude toward his work, and, of course, to help i n achieving>a more thorough understanding of the poems themselves through an examination of the role of the personae i n the poems. >, We may begin with a preliminary set of definitions and distinct-ions. E l i o t clearly used the term "personality" i n a number of different ways. At times "personality" i s used to distinguish relatively super-f i c i a l characteristics of each individual: those habitual gestures which can be altered with relative ease. In this sense the term is used interchangably with "idiosyncrasy" (almost always a pejorative word to •Elio t ) . At other times E l i o t used the word to denote an individual's most profound identity, and at least once he identifies i t with the soul--that which gives a man "strength of character."^ The only real consis-tency i n his use of the word i s that i t always implies that which relates to the individual being, that by which he i s distinguished from the collective association of other beings. And often, though not always, i t carries implications of the emotional l i f e of an individual. Beyond this, Eliot's own conception of "personality" seems to have been indefinite. It appears to be one of several terms he habitually used i n a loose manner. -Its definition depends upon the context i n which i t appears. In "Tradition and the Individual Talent," for example, "personality" i s used to mean that part of the poet's private l i f e which is unconnected to his poetry. In the 1920 essay on "Philip Massinger," on the other hand, i t is more complex; E l i o t asserts that Massinger's characters are "not wholly o 3 conscious" because of a deficiency in Massinger's own personality. That Eliot himself was obviously aware of the difficulty in finding adequate definitions for the terms is made clear in the Introduction to The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism. He argues that the "development of genuine taste, founded on genuine feeling, is inextricable from the development of the personality and character." And he adds a note to this: "In making this statement I refuse to be drawn into any discussion of the definitions of 'personality' and 'character'." It seems wisest to take Eliot's cue and avoid trying for a clear definition of the word at this point. It is a term that he found useful for many purposes (it appears often in his writing), but perhaps because of his own distrust of the pseudoscience of psychology, what i t meant for him was indefinable, although real. Thus in investigating Eliot's use of and attitudes toward personality i t is necessary to allow defini-tions to arise out of the contexts, in much the same way as the important connotations in Eliot's verse come from the contexts. Any other kind of definition would have to be either so inclusive as to be almost no definition at a l l , or so limited that there will be found enough exceptions to cast the original definition into doubt. There i s , however, one general distinction that can be made at the beginning of the discussion. Eliot's use of the term "personality" occurs in two major contexts. The fi r s t of these is the most specific; i t has to do with the relationship between the poet and his work or sometimes as the relationship between the poet and his personae. It is 4 in this context that the word most often occurs in Eliot's theoretical prose. In a l l of the essays I mentioned above (and in many more) Eliot is concerned with the question of the relationship between the artist's personality and his work--the extent to which the poet actually enters into his poetry, how he uses his own personal experience and how that experience is translated into art. The second context concerns personality in a more general sense, the proper use and place of personality in relation to other personalities and to moral and social values. On the most elementary level that can be seen as a question of the individual's own importance in context with other individuals, traditions and values. This is a major theme in much of the poetry from "Prufrock" to the "Four Quartets," but it also receives Eliot's attention in such prose works as After Strange Gods and the thesis on Bradley. Quite naturally, these two levels are related, and at times the line between them is indistinct. My purpose in introducing them is simply to facilitate discussion of Eliot's sometimes ambiguous and always shifting attitudes toward the complex question of the personality in art. It is, in fact, partly due to this ambiguity and change in Eliot's pronouncements about the personal in art that a study such as this is bound to begin somewhat tentatively. The essays help in formulating Eliot's attitudes, but they also introduce problems. In them Eliot often seems to be striving to explain either what he felt he had done, or more often what he felt he needed to do. In either case the prose can do l i t t l e more than to give hints and clues to our study of the poems. Eliot clearly was thinking of this imperfect relationship between his 5 prose and his verse when he wrote i n After Strange Gods: i n one's prose reflexions one may be legitimately occupied with i d e a l s , whereas i n the w r i t i n g of verse one can only deal with a c t u a l i t y . (p. 28) In addition to t h i s , the essays, p a r t i c u l a r l y the early essays (which contain E l i o t ' s most widely-known deliberations on personality i n a r t ) , are often w r i t t e n with a polemic purpose: to correct errors i n public taste. Consequently they often present ideas more extremely than a more purely disinterested and objective s i t u a t i o n would occasion. The la t e r essays often modify the e a r l i e r extreme positions. For example, i n 1934 E l i o t wrote: Some years ago I wrote an essay e n t i t l e d Tradition and the Individual Talent. During the course of the sub-sequent f i f t e e n years I have discovered, or had brought to my attention, some unsatisfactory phrasing and at least one more than doubtful analogy. But I do not repudiate what I wrote i n that essay more f u l l y than I should expect to do after such a lapse of time. The problem, na t u r a l l y , does not seem to me simple as i t seemed then, nor could I treat i t now as a purely l i t e r a r y one. {After Strange Gods, p. 15) In 1940 the terms are stronger: I have, i n early essays, exto l l e d what I c a l l e d impersonality i n a r t , and i t may seem that, i n giving as a reason f o r the superiority of Yeats's l a t e r work the greater expression of personality i n i t , I am contra-d i c t i n g myself. I t may be that I expressed myself badly, or that I had only an adolescent grasp of that idea--as I can never bear to re-read my own prose writings, I am w i l l i n g to leave the point unsettled. (On Poetry and Poets, p. 299) And i n 1964 he wrote what seems to be some sort of repudiation of "Tradition and the Individual Talent:" Just as any student of contemporary l i t e r a t u r e putting pen to paper about my c r i t i c i s m , i s c e r t a i n to pass an 6 examination on i t i f he alludes to the " d i s s o c i a t i o n of s e n s i b i l i t y " and the "objective c o r r e l a t i v e , " so every anthologist wishing to include a sample of my essays w i l l choose Tradition and the Individual Talent--perhaps the most juvenile and c e r t a i n l y the f i r s t to appear i n p r i n t . I r e p r i n t The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism i n the f a i n t hope that one of these lectures may be taken instead of Tradition and the Individual Talent by some anthologist of the future. , m 1 n . „ , n a * / n ^ cn (The Use of Poetry. . . .(1964) p.yj This progression c l e a r l y shows E l i o t becoming increasingly anxious to suggest that the point of view expressed i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent" was not that by which he wished to be known. Consequently i t becomes necessary to explore i n some d e t a i l the nature of the change i n E l i o t ' s ideas about personality and a r t over the years, and the re s u l t i n g changes i n the personae i n his poetry. One of the most important conclusions that emerges from such an examination i s that E l i o t ' s ideas underwent more of a s o l i d i f i c a t i o n than a change. For i n the early essays there i s f a r more ambiguity--even contradiction--than appears i n his l a t e r c r i t i c i s m . During the period which produced "Tradition and the Individual Talent" E l i o t was also exploring other points of view. At the same time that he was w r i t i n g that poetry i s "an escape from the personality" he was also suggesting that: The creation of a work of a r t . . . consists i n the process of transfusion of the personality, or, i n a deeper sense, the l i f e , of the author into the character[s]. The pronouncements made i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (and perhaps the complementary thesis of the "objective c o r r e l a t i v e " i n "Hamlet and His Problems") have received more attention than any of 7 E l i o t ' s other statements on t h i s theme, yet E l i o t argues f a r more often i n his early prose for the importance of personality (and s p e c i f i c a l l y a strong personality i n the a r t i s t ) i n the creation of a r t . A f t e r reading h is essays on the Elizabethan dramatists one cannot but conclude that E l i o t believed the most successful playwrights were without exception those who displayed the strongest personality i n t h e i r works, and moreover, as the essay on Massinger c l e a r l y shows, the f a i l u r e of the lesser dramatists i s attributed d i r e c t l y to a f a i l u r e i n personality. Two preliminary conclusions may be drawn from these b r i e f observations on the essays, both of which w i l l help i n a r r i v i n g at an understanding of the poetry. F i r s t E l i o t ' s e a r l i e s t views on the relationship between the poet's personality and his a r t may be summar-ized generally and perhaps te n t a t i v e l y as follows. As "Tradition and the Individual Talent" makes c l e a r , the Romantic, nineteenth-century notion that poetry i s a vehicle by which a poet expresses h i s own personal feelings--"confesses himself" i n the most l i t e r a l sense--is rejected. Poetry i s an escape from personality mainly i n the sense that the creation of i t requires the poet to go outside of himself to f i n d "objects" by which emotion and personality may f i n d "impersonal" or universal expression. E l i o t t r i e d to describe the process by which t h i s o b j e c t i f i -cation occurs f i r s t i n the catalyst analogy i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and then, perhaps more successfully,in the theory of the "objective c o r r e l a t i v e . " Yet there i s always a recognition that the poet's own personality, his own feelings and emotions, play an important 8 part in the creation of his poetry ("Tradition and the Individual Talent" notwithstanding). This helps to explain Eliot's judgment of Swinburne's poetry, that i t is successful because " i t is impersonal, and no one else could have made i t " (The Sacred Wood, p. 149). The apparent paradox between its impersonality and the implication of its personal nature inherent in the phrase "no one else could have made i t " is resolved when we recall that according to these early essays art is made impersonal not by a literal escape from the personality, but by a transformation of i t into art. The second conclusion has to do with the development of Eliot's ideas during the course of his l i f e . There is a dual movement in this regard. In the f i r s t place Eliot saw the whole question of the personality in art becoming increasingly complex. That i s , as he said in After Strange Gods, The problem, naturally does not seem to me simple as i t seemed then, nor could I treat i t now as a purely literary one. The complexity arises from the fact that in his later criticism he does not treat i t as a purely literary problem; i t becomes associated with a number of ideas about religious and moral problems. Indeed, in After Strange Gods the term "orthodoxy" is used in much the same context in which "impersonality" was used in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," just as the "purely literary" thesis of the relation between the poet and a literary tradition in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" is expanded to include the relationship between the writer and his cultural-religious 9 t r a d i t i o n i n After Strange Gods. At the same time, however, a good deal of the early ambiguity i s resolved i n the l a t e r essays; that i s , while the question becomes broader i n i t s implications, i t also becomes more set t l e d and c l e a r l y defined. Thus, a l l of the l a t e r essays i n which the question i s treated emphasize not only the importance of a strong personality i n the a r t i s t , but also the necessity of that personality being present i n the art . ( E l i o t ' s comments on Yeats's l a t e r poetry quoted above provide a t y p i c a l example). Of course, there are many points on which the early and the l a t e r ideas agree. I t would be untenable to suggest that E l i o t ever rejected his early condemnation of the notion that poetry i s a means f o r the poet to confess his personal whims and desires, or that he ever suggested that idiosyncrasy or even the presence of a strong personality for i t s own sake i n a r t are permissible. But within the context of these constant notions, the d i r e c t i o n of E l i o t ' s thought i s toward an increasing place f o r the personality of the a r t i s t i n his work. One has only to compare the " f i c t i o n a l " narrator of "The Love Song of J. A l f r e d Prufrock," with the narrator of the Quartets who speaks with a voice that i s often very l i k e E l i o t ' s . The most c e r t a i n difference between the personae of these two poems i s that i n "Prufrock" E l i o t makes a conscious e f f o r t to create a narrator who i s c l e a r l y separate from him, while i n the Quartets he has arrived at a p o s i t i o n i n which t h i s i s no longer necessary. Before going on to the ea r l y poetry, E l i o t ' s association with the thought of two English philosophers, F. H. Bradley and T. E. Hulme 10 should be noted. Like E l i o t i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent," I propose to h a l t at the f r o n t i e r s of metaphysics; nevertheless both of these men had a profound influence on E l i o t i n the area proposed f o r t h i s study. Bradley's influence has received attention from such c r i t i c s as 2 Hugh Kenner and Anne Bolgan. Hulme's influence has received less attention, although i t i s c e r t a i n l y equally pervasive. Bradley, of course, exerts his influence i n an obvious way; much of his work concerns the nature of the personality and i t s relationship to objects around i t , both physical objects and c u l t u r a l t r a d i t i o n s . Hugh Kenner, p a r t i c u l a r l y , has demonstrated the impact of Bradley's ideas on E l i o t ' s poetry. Hulme, too, said much about the individual's r e l a t i o n to h i s t o r y , t r a d i t i o n and r e l i g i o n . In f a c t , the s i m i l a r i t y between the ideas set f o r t h i n After Strange Gods and those i n most of Hulme's work suggests that perhaps i t was Hulme more than anyone else who caused E l i o t to recognize that the question of personality could not be seen as a "purely l i t e r a r y " one. ( I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t that when E l i o t ' s f r i e n d and co-editor, Herbert Read, published Hulme's Speculations, i n 1924, that book won glowing praise from E l i o t i n a review i n The Criterion.) Therefore, although t h i s study proposes to content i t s e l f with an examination of how E l i o t ' s views on the personality affects the poetry and helps to give us a clearer understanding of many of the poems, attention must be given to E l i o t ' s understanding of the thought of these two men. 11 CHAPTER 1 FOOTNOTES See especially E l i o t ' s Doctoral Thesis, Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley3 (London: Faber and Faber, 1964), Ch. 6, "Solipsism." 2 See pp. 35-60 of Hugh Kenner's The Invisible Poet (New York: McDowell, Obolensky, 1959), and Anne Bolgan's introduction to Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley. CHAPTER 2 THE ETERNAL ENEMIES OF THE ABSOLUTE: PRUFROCK AND SOME OTHERS. Eliot's most successful early poems are monologues. In the monologue the problem of the poet's personality i n the poem is i n a sense avoided; although there i s a personality present i n the monologue, i t i s distinct from the poet's own. The dramatic narrator may be a "mask" or a voice for the poet, but the poet's personality i s not necessarily identical, or even related, to the persona's personality. The persona i s a character i n the dramatic sense, and i t i s his, rather than the poet's, personality that dominates the poem. The poet undeniably directs and controls the persona, but i t i s the persona who appears i n the poem. This relationship might be likened to a puppet show. We know rationally that the puppets are not real, that they are moved and made to speak by someone we do not see. But since we do not see the puppeteer, we begin to believe i n the personality of the puppets i f we are caught up by the show at a l l . And the reason we believe i n the puppets (or i n the dramatic narrator) i s Ithatis^ they have been given personalities of their own. The relationship between these created personalities and the creator's personality i s a matter of indifference. Such i s the case i n the monologue; the relationship between the poet and his personae i s rather technical (i.e., of interest only to those who wish to know how 13 the thing is made to work) than immediate. I have chosen the analogy with the puppeteer advisedly, for i t is the nature of dramatic art to f i l l the stage so completely with characters of such definite personality that the creator, the director and a l l others connected with the presentation are forgotten. Eliot's early monologues are dramatic in this sense. The personae in his monologues are always characters of distinctive (if not strong) personality, and these created personalities dominate what we see in the poems, almost to the exclusion of everything else. That i s , the narrators' consciousnesses are pervasive in the sense that everything in the monologues i s seen in terms of them. To illustrate this let us turn to the best known of the early monologues, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Like the other monologues, this poem is dominated by the reverie of the narrator. In one sense a l l that exists in the poem is the reverie; a l l other elements of the poem are seen not only in relation to Prufrock, but through his consciousness. Therefore, everything that appears in the poem is modified by the way Prufrock sees i t . By the same token, Prufrock himself is modified by the things he sees. He i s , in a very real sense, what he sees; but also, what he sees is partly determined by what he is. Hugh Kenner described the results of this phenomenon in these terms:"'" Prufrock is strangely boundless; one doesn't affirm at a given point with certainty, "Here is where his knowledge would have stopped," or, "These are subtleties to which he would not have aspired.". . . he is the centre of a field of consciousness, rather 14 yours than his: a focusing of the reader's attention, in a world made up not of cows and stones, but of literary effects and memories prompted by the words. There are three different points made here. The f i r s t deals with the character of Prufrock himself, that he is "strangely boundless," in the sense that he is not as empirically concrete as are, say, Browning's narrators. The second concerns Prufrock's world, which is not made of definite concrete objects. And the third deals with the kind of reverie Prufrock engaged in, a reverie made of "literary effects and memories prompted by the words." It is the second and third of these observations with which I am concerned for the moment; I will return to the fi r s t - -the nature of Prufrock's character and personality--after that. To say that Prufrock's world is made not of cows and stones but rather of literary effects and memories is clearly true, although the 2 statement seems at f i r s t to deny more than i t really does. For there is certainly a world in which Prufrock exists, and this world bears some specific relation to the world we a l l see about us. While there are not cows and stones, there are "certain half-deserted streets," as well as a flight of stairs, a beach and some women. That these objects of Prufrock's reverie are "literary effects" cannot be denied in one sense; but in the context of the poem--that i s , to the dramatic character who is narrating the poem--they are as real as any cows or stones. One might speculate, in fact, that i f Prufrock were inclined to think of cows and stones he would think of them in much the same way as he thinks of the streets or the women. These objects a l l exist, and we can recognize in them specific 15 objects which our own experience has taught us to recognize. What separates them from things we know empirically to exist is not the nature of the objects themselves, but rather Prufrock's attitude toward them. His point of view controls how they are seen, hence, within the context of the poem, their natures. The objects in the poem might--undoubtedly would-- be described differently from another point of view, but what is important is that this is how Prufrock remembers them. The emphasis in the poem, in other words, is upon Prufrock's consciousness--how he sees things--rather than upon the things that are seen. We do not say with certainty "This is the setting of the poem," but rather, "this is how Prufrock sees the setting." This of course does not deny Prufrock a personality or a point of view; on the contrary, i t demonstrates that Prufrock's personality and point of view dominate the poem to a greater degree than would exist i f the objects he describes were given a more independent existence from him. Thus, although the objects which occupy the poem are not representations from an empirical world, there exists in the poem a world more real than the phrase "literary effects" seems to imply. The world in which Prufrock exists is not absolute, but i t is nonetheless specific and concrete within the context of the poem. The "literary effects and memories," then, are produced because Eliot's narrators so dominate the poems. To demonstrate this one has only to compare Eliot's monologues with those of Browning. First, there is a difference in the amount of accidental information about the 16 narrators. In Browning there i s always i m p l i c i t i n the poem an objective and empirical (often h i s t o r i c a l ) s e t t i n g , a set of objects which Browning manages to make us see not j u s t through the persona's eyes, but also objectively. The painting of the l a s t Duchess, the nightwatch that catches Fra Lippo L i p p i , the funeral of the Grammarian are a l l external " f a c t s " that have a kind of i m p l i c i t empirical existence that i s separate from the persona. On the other hand, E l i o t ' s narrators generally create t h e i r own worlds. That i s , they create a setting that i s usually "imaginary" or p r i v a t e , and then they respond to t h i s created setting. But again, i t does not follow that E l i o t ' s narrators have less personality than do Browning's. In at l e a s t one sense they have more, or at least the focus of the poems i s rather more upon the personality i n E l i o t than i t i s i n Browning. For i n E l i o t , even the physical setting i s an extension of the persona.-Also i n E l i o t ' s monologues there i s a new emphasis upon the "voice" of the narrator. In Browning the narrator responds to something external; quite often his monologues are i n r e a l i t y only one h a l f of a dialogue. The Duke of Ferrara, Fra Lippo L i p p i , The Bishop of St. -Praxeddss, a l l make s p e c i f i c answers to obviously implied questions or gestures which i n turn are responses to things they have said or done. In E l i o t , i f there i s implied dialogue (as i n Prufrock's, " S h a l l I say,") i t takes place e n t i r e l y within the consciousness of the narrator; he formulates a l l of the responses, those of others as w e l l as of himself. The correspondent i s , i n other words, only another element 17 i n the persona's consciousness. This special relationship between the narrators and t h e i r worlds a l t e r s the language i n two important ways. F i r s t , E l i o t ' s narrators speak i n terms that are more "private" than i s usually expected ( " l i t e r a r y e f f e c t s " perhaps). That i s , t h e i r language i s private i n the sense one might expect when a person talks to himself about things he knows w e l l . Second, these narrators speak i n a manner that i s highly r h e t o r i c a l , and again the nature of t h i s rhetoric i s distinguished by i t s privacy. This special combination i n E l i o t ' s poetic language has long been a source of study, and the usual approach has been to trace i t s h i s t o r i c a l sources. 3 Genesius Jones' study i n t h i s area i s probably the best. Jones shows that E l i o t found i n the French Symbolistes a great interest i n the p o s s i b i l i t i e s inherent i n the p r i v a t e , subjective use of words which resulted from the i r declining interest i n the 19th century phenomenal, empirical world view. I have already suggested that E l i o t ' s dramatic narrators seem to have only a minimal i n t e r e s t i n the empirically perceived world around them--their interests l i e i n the " e f f e c t s " of t h i s world on their own consciousnesses. I t would follow, then, that the i r use of the language might naturally be described i n the same terms that Jones uses to describe the French Symbolistes, who "were concerned not so much with what was denoted by a word, or even a word's normal connotations, but rather with what a word could be made to connote through special handling of that word i n poetry" (p.33), and further, that the best f i e l d f o r t h i s kind of experimentation with the subjective use of words was i n 18 the "world of the imagination or memory."- As a natural consequence, Jones continues, the poet learns to use words in new combinations that may be denotatively nonsensical, but which in context form definitions among themselves. The reader of such poems "will be aware first of panoramas of connotation; then of delimitation; then, from each formulation, of a clearly outlined but alogical meaning" (p. 37). In addition, specific symbols may assume private and arbitrary meanings for the poet, and in such cases these meanings can be understood only by tracing the symbols through a l l the poet's work. For example, symbol j l c bells /and -rf lights co~f ss.tairs .recur ^ often throughout Eliot's w o r k . It is difficult to find the language in "Prufrock" as obscure as Jones's description would seem to indicate (although records show that some early critics did), but the central points he makes are consistent with the way Eliot manipulates the language in "Prufrock." Just as the setting in the poem is conveyed entirely through Prufrock's own conscious-ness and is modified in a very personal (to Prufrock) way, so too is the language he employs highly personal. And just as the personal view of the setting focuses the reader's attention onto the personality of Prufrock, so does the use of a highly personalized language. The term "certain half-deserted streets" provides a striking example. Along with the other landmarks Prufrock recollects in the first stanza, these streets are undoubtedly to be taken as places he has visited, perhaps knows well. But he does not feel required to specify beyond the vague adjectives "certain" and "half-deserted*.".' The implication is clearly that in 19 Prufrock's own consciousness these streets are real and that this description suffices for the purposes of his reverie. The streets are perhaps clearly pictured in his consciousness, but the description of them generalizes them in such a way that they represent not any particular location but rather a mood or a feeling. This private use of language serves, to shift our attention from the streets to Prufrock's description of them. Thus the language forces us to look not so much at the world about us, the empirical world a l l men share, but rather at the way in which Prufrock remembers his world and responds to i t . We are made aware both of the manner in which this world is seen and of the way in which i t is modified from the world we know (we a l l know our own certain half-deserted streets, after a l l ) . Once again, Prufrock is what he sees, and what he is also determines what he sees and how he sees i t . This is of central importance to the poem. There is yet another way in which Eliot's use of language directs our attention onto Prufrock's personality, and particularly onto the way in which he sees himself in relation to other things. Eliot himself gives an apt description of this kind of rhetoric in his essay "'Rhetoric' and Poetic;Drama." This essay begins with the assumption that rhetoric, used judiciously, is a useful poetic technique, and that modern condemnation of "rhetoric" is too simple-minded and therefore not wholly just. He gives as an example of a fortunate use of rhetoric those passages in Shakespeare "where a character in the play sees himself in a dramatic light" {Selected Essays, p. 27). Eliot continues: 20 A speech i n a play should never appear to be intended to move us as i t might conceivably move other characters i n the play, for i t i s essential that we should preserve our p o s i t i o n of spectators, and observe always from the outside though with complete understanding. . . . And i n the r h e t o r i c a l speeches from Shakespeare which have been c i t e d , we have this necessary advantage of a new clue to the character, i n noting the angle from which he views himself. But when a character in a play makes a d i r e c t appeal to us, we are either victims of our own sentiment, or we are i n the presence of a vicious rhetoric. (p. 28) Although E l i o t i s speaking s p e c i f i c a l l y of the drama, the application of the p r i n c i p l e of "self-dramatization," or "seeing oneself i n a dramatic l i g h t , " i s c l e a r l y applicable to the dramatic monologue, and can, i n f a c t , be applied with few changes to most of the poetry E l i o t has written. That i s , i n E l i o t ' s monologues--in most of E l i o t ' s poetry--there i s an apparently conscious e f f o r t to create a s i t u a t i o n i n which the character, or the persona, sees himself dramatically. In the early poetry t h i s usually takes the form of irony, which i s perhaps the most "dramatic" way of looking at oneself. Prufrock, sees himself i n a dramatic l i g h t , and i t i s l a r g e l y from t h i s dramatic attitude of his narrators toward themselves that E l i o t ' s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c irony derives. This i s true not only of the monologues; the same sort of " r h e t o r i c " pervades "La F i g l i a Che Piange," f o r example, when the narrator concludes: And I wonder how they should have been together! I should have l o s t a gesture and a pose. Sometimes these cogitations s t i l l amaze The troubled midnight and the noon's repose. In the monologue, however, where the central character i s developed s u f f i c i e n t l y , i t i s especially appropriate f o r him to be concerned about 21 how he should regard himself and how others should regard him. Prufrock, for example, is continually trying to establish an appropriate point of view towards himself. This appears most obviously in outbursts such as: No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, etc. But i t extends beyond these explicit passages; the entire poem consists of various roles Prufrock tries out on himself, as well as various roles Prufrock imagines others might see him in. Eliot's use of a private and rhetorical language is eminently suited to the rapid shifts in moods.and attitudes which result from Prufrock's self-examination. Since the language is so personal to Prufrock he is able to adjust i t to suit his many-faceted reverie, and the language itself allows Prufrock to be more fully self-conscious and personal than the use of a more'.objective language would allow. Both the setting and the use of language, then, direct our attention away from the poet and toward the persona, for both the manner in which the setting is perceived and the way in which the language is used are intensely private and personal to the narrator. This eliminates the personality of the poet from the poem in a l l but the most subtle levels, for although we know that somewhere behind the poem is the poet, directing and manipulating his creation, we do not know where to find him. We are forced to look at Prufrock i f we are to look for a personality in the poem, and when we do look at Prufrock we are immediately faced with his own personality; there is nothing else to look at. Everything in the poem 22 i s coloured by Prufrock, and Prufrock i s dominated and circumscribed by hi s own image of himself. This i s why the poem can s h i f t so r a p i d l y i n mood, from despair to irony, and from s e l f - p i t y to confession. For the focus of the poem i s always upon the consciousness of the narrator, not on the external world, not even i n the usual sense upon the e f f e c t of the external world upon the narrator. For since the external world i n t h i s poem i s dependent upon the narrator's perception of i t , i t i s no more stable than he i s himself. When we look at Prufrock himself we are reminded of Kenner's description of him, that he i s "strangely boundless, . . . a centre of a f i e l d of consciousness, rather yours than h i s : a focusing of the reader's attention." Again, t h i s description seems to deny more than i t does i n fact . Because his reverie i s so p r i v a t e , i t cannot be taken i n quite the same way as we might take Browning's. I have suggested that the world which Prufrock inhabits i s not absolute, but that i t i s , neverthe-l e s s , d e f i n i t e and concrete w i t h i n the context of the poem. The same observation can be made concerning Prufrock himself. He seems boundless to us because we have l i t t l e concrete information about him. We know that he i s balding and that his arms and legs are growing t h i n , although we are not r e a l l y c e r t a i n that we know even t h i s . What we know i s that Prufrock i s worried about his thinning h a i r and about h i s physical appearance. Even t h i s , however i s not quite accurate, f o r Prufrock i s worried, as he t e l l s us, about what the ladies w i l l think about h i s physical appearance. As i t turns out, we know almost nothing s p e c i f i c 23-about Prufrock in any public sense. But we do know what Prufrock thinks of himself from moment to moment, and what he thinks others might think of him. Thus, i t is only in the objective sense that we do not know much about Prufrock; we have a good deal of subjective information about him. We are unable to say "Here is where his knowledge would have stopped;" we can not even say with any certainty, "Here is where his knowledge does stop." But we can say with certainty "This is the knowledge Prufrock uses at this moment." This is not to suggest that Prufrock does not have a specific personality; or that the personality does not dominate the poem; or even that we cannot apprehend his personality. It only means that the personality in the poem must (just as in any poem) be taken on its own terms and that these terms are created within the context of the poem itself. And since the poem consists for the most part of the consciousness of the persona, i t is Prufrock who sets out the terms on which we are to take him. Once again we are drawn into a situation in which there are no absolute contexts in the ordinary sense. Prufrock himself, like the poem, can be seen only as subjective. This is why discussion about the real identity of the "you" and "I" or of which Lazarus Prufrock has in mind is bound to be inconclusive. Prufrock's reverie is important wholly for its revelation of Prufrock's own subjective perception and consciousness--his personality. But i f the external objects in the poem (including Prufrock's appearance, history, etc.) cannot be apprehended directly, Prufrock's 24 personality can, f o r his personality i s revealed by the way i n which he sees the world. I t i s i n t h i s regard that Kenner's assertion can be misleading. Prufrock i s surely "the centre of a f i e l d of consciousness," but i t i s not as c e r t a i n that t h i s consciousness i s "more yours than h i s . " There are, after a l l , a number of things that can be said with certainty about Prufrock: he i s f u l l of doubt, not only about how others w i l l see him, but about how he should see himself. He i s intensely concerned with his place i n the universe, h i s own importance. He i s i n t e l l i g e n t enough to recognize with some c l a r i t y what i s troubling him. And f i n a l l y , he i s concerned with establishing a point of view which w i l l enable him, i f not to come to terms with h i s weaknesses, at lea s t to minimize the i r importance. Almost ha l f the poem, i n f a c t , i s taken up with Prufrock's e f f o r t s to convince himself that perhaps i t would not "have been worth i t , a f t e r a l l . " I t i s Prufrock's concern with finding comfortable attitudes and masks that f i n a l l y d i r e c t s the reverie. Throughout the poem he endeavors to "see himself i n a dramatic l i g h t ; " he prepares faces, he poses, he dire c t s various kinds of irony toward h i m s e l f - - a l l e f f o r t to f i n d an angle from which he can view himself without self-recrimination but s t i l l with some element of accuracy. And these poses he t r i e s are only secondarily meant to s a t i s f y or delude others; they are p r i m a r i l y intended to provide him with a complementary view of himself. In attempting to do t h i s , Prufrock begins by attempting to establi s h some sort of relationship between himself and external objects 25 (either people or things or ideas). These relationships are important to him for they allow him to define himself through external objects. But in order to do this he must be able to manipulate both these external objects and his relation to them. It is in this sense that the character of Prufrock is developed not only by what he sees, but by how he sees i t . Everything is present in his mind; nothing has any other independent existence. His own personality depends upon his ability to control what he sees and how he sees i t , and when he loses that ability his personality is shattered. This characteristic is prefigured in the f i r s t stanza. From the beginning Prufrock invents (or recollects) a set of objects by which he can define himself, and he attempts to manipulate these objects in a way that will permit him to view himself in a dramatic light. He describes his journey, the setting and the route in terms which are at once personal and objective. They are objective in the sense that they are objects--the sunset, the streets, etc.--with which he can associate specific actions and poses. They are personal chiefly in his description of them. The evening is "spread out against the sky/ like a patient etherized upon a table;" the image describes Prufrock's attitude toward the sunset more clearly than i t describes the sunset itself. Likewise, the "certain half-deserted streets," the'one-night cheap hotels" are described in terms (as I suggested earlier) that represent mainly Prufrock's apprehension of them. But everything described in the f i r s t seven lines (to, "sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells") is described from a relatively detached, impersonal point of view. That is, Prufrock's I 26 description of his imagined journey does two things. F i r s t , he describes everything i n a way that l i n k s i t to the narrator; everything becomes an extension of, or symbol f o r , Prufrock himself. Second, he manages to describe everything i n an impersonal tone, as i f he were only observing, and not p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n i t . The r e s u l t of th i s dual movement i s that Prufrock succeeds i n viewing himself obje c t i v e l y , impersonally. And as long as he can do th i s he can not only control h is attitude toward himself, but i n a very important sense, he can control h is own personality--what he i s r e a l l y l i k e (or at least h is masks--what he seems to be l i k e ) . Of course Prufrock i s not able to maintain complete control over his reverie. For i n l i n e 8 the streets which e a r l i e r were only " c e r t a i n half-deserted streets" (a f a i r l y neutral description) become, Streets that follow l i k e a tedious argument Of insidious intent To lead you to an overwhelming question. . . The adjectives used here are more d e f i n i t e than the adjectives used e a r l i e r to describe the streets. They tend to be more personal to Prufrock, i n the sense that they point toward the weakness i n his personality; they force him to look upon himself without benefit of external symbols. For throughout the poem one of Prufrock's central concerns i s to avoid the "overwhelming question," which, although i t i s not s p e c i f i e d , c l e a r l y has something to do with himself, with h is fundamental nature. Prufrock i s unwil l i n g to look a t himself as he i s , without creating some sort of dramatic s i t u a t i o n i n which he can be defined by his attributes or his actions or his surroundings. In short, 27 he is afraid. Thus, as soon as the "overwhelming question" is introduced, he immediately attempts to avoid i t by returning to his original set of objects, in this case his projected journey: Oh, do not ask, "What is it?" Let us go and make our visi t . And this is followed by a picture of the destination of that "visit": In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo. The development of this f i r s t stanza (which prefigures the larger development of the poem itself) depends upon an intricate inter-play between the things Prufrock thinks about and Prufrock's own consciousness of himself. Prufrock takes a number of objects--streets, etc.--and creates symbols from them, and he manipulates these symbols in a way that permits him to think about himself in a dramatic way--he sees himself in relation to a set of symbolic objects which represent to him a mood he wants to hold. Thus, the streets, etc., i n i t i a l l y strike a mood of knowing cynicism with which Prufrock presumably wants to identify himself. And i t works as long as he can control in his reverie the symbolic functions of his objects. But then the streets begin to change, becoming part of a web of metaphysical speculation about Prufrock's own purpose and meaning, and this new symbolic attachment is not as safe as the original one, where the streets had led him away from himself,not into himself. And as the "certain half-deserted streets" become "streets of insidious intent" that lead "you" (and "you" is again Prufrock's 28 attempt to objectify himself) to a personal question, Prufrock feels i t necessary to stop the reverie abruptly with an almost direct admission that he cannot go further. What happens in this process is that Prufrock is so concerned with his own mind (and personality) that he is unable to keep objects objective. He begins by trying to use these objects as symbols which will control a pose he wants to assume himself (as he prepares his face). If he can create the proper mood and feeling, and then modify himself to f i t the mood and feeling, he will have been successful. Instead, his own uncontrollable personality is so strong--or at least so important to him--that i t takes over the symbolic objects and alters the moods Prufrock has given them so that they begin to represent him not as he would like to be but as he is afraid he really is. Therefore he is obliged to stop, discard the f i r s t set of symbols (although they will pop up in his reverie again) and begin with another, hopefully safer, set--the yellow fog. But as happens again and again in the poem (particularly in the fi r s t half) the yellow fog slips into other symbols which return once more to the "overwhelming question." The poem is f u l l of things, and these things, from streets and fogs to teacups and novels, are a l l used by Prufrock to try to escape out of himself into an objectified pose which will prove to be manageable. Of these "things," the most important are the women, who are twice introduced and dropped before Prufrock finally takes them up for consideration. By the f i f t h stanza, however, ("for I have known 29 them a l l already. . .") they have become the most important symbol used by Prufrock; from this point they recur with increasing frequency until they become the sirens in the final lines of the poem. That the women are central to Prufrock's reverie is made clear by the ti t l e of the poem itself, Prufrock's love song. But, i t is a strange love song, primarily because the women to whom Prufrock is "singing" are used in the same equivocal way in which Prufrock uses a l l the other objects. They are merely symbols to be manipulated to suit Prufrock's need. There is no question, I think, but that the entire poem takes place only in Prufrock's mind; the women never appear in fact. It is also plausible to conclude that Prufrock never really intends physically to make his vis i t . In fact, the entire reverie develops in such a way to suggest that one of Prufrock's central concerns is to find a rationalization for not making a vis i t which he is convinced would be unpleasant. Of course this is what he does when half way through the poem he begins to suggest that the v i s i t would not have been worth making. If the women are taken as symbols of some journey--mental or physical--which Prufrock feels ought to be undertaken but even more must be avoided, their role in the poem becomes clearer. Like the streets and other objects in the f i r s t stanza they serve two functions for Prufrock. First, they allow him to look outside of himself because they are external to him. They are in the strictest sense objects to Prufrock. They possess no definable personality in themselves; they are faceless in 30 much the same way that the Hollow Men are faceless. They are described in collective terms, as "the women" or, when one appears individually, as "someone" (who is fully interchangeable with any of the others). And in most cases they are also described by the rhetorical device of synecdoche--they are arms, or voices, or gestures. Clearly Prufrock has created them, and he manipulates them for his own needs. But these women, like the streets, are objects by which Prufrock can define himself by means of his relation with them--his responses to them and theirs to him. What is significant in this is that not only Prufrock's responses but also the women's exist only in Prufrock's mind; he directs them a l l , and he tries to direct them in such a way that allows him to avoid an "overwhelming question." This "overwhelming question" (and the similarly rhetorically phrased term, "to disturb the universe") is another of Prufrock's equivocations. It is hardly a novel suggestion that there is no way in which we can know for certain what Prufrock means by these phrases. Perhaps the question which will presumably disturb the universe is one to be put to the ladies. Perhaps i t rather concerns Prufrock's identity. Or perhaps i t is finally merely whether he dares to eat a peach. But the ambiguity of these terms is more profound thaji this. For there is nothing in the poem to suggest that Prufrock himself has any definite conception of what he means. Indeed, these phrases are used in the same manner in which Prufrock uses everything else in the poem. They mean everything and nothing. They too are symbols which Prufrock uses to 31 avoid making any s p e c i f i c comment upon himself. They sound grand, but they mean anything Prufrock wishes them to mean. They are l i k e h is description of " c e r t a i n half-deserted streets;" and when they take on a meaning (or even suggestion of meaning) that i s too personal to Prufrock, he drops them. An excellent example of t h i s may be found i n the t h i r d stanza i n which Prufrock introduces the concept of time into h i s reverie. The whole tone of t h i s stanza i s one of evasion. I t begins with the phrase, And indeed there w i l l be time and t h i s phrase i s repeated s i x additional times. The force of t h i s r e p e t i t i o n i s p r i m a r i l y to create.a mood of p a s s i v i t y (a mood that was introduced i n the sleepy "yellow fog" s e f e t i g i j ) . But even w i t h i n t h i s context of p a s s i v i t y Prufrock finds his reverie becoming again increasingly personal. F i r s t there w i l l be time f o r the "yellow smoke that s l i d e s along the street" (and the association i n Prufrock's mind with the yellow smoke, which i s also making i t s pilgrimage along the s t r e e t , i s s i g n i f i c a n t ) . Then there w i l l be time to "prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." And f i n a l l y : There w i l l be time to murder and create, And time f o r a l l the works and days of hands That l i f t and drop a question on your pla t e ; Time f o r you and time f o r me. This progression from the p o s i t i v e l y impersonal and objective smoke to the more immediate task of preparing masks to the sudden dropping of the "question" on the plate and the r e s u l t i n g emphasis upon "you and me" i s one of increasing personal confrontation. Yet the whole passage i s 32 phrased rhetorically in such a way that even the most personal dropping of the question is ambiguous. It does not need to be a question of personal significance; conceivably this question could concern anything. Yet there is no doubt that the question does represent to Prufrock some-thing that is uncomfortably personal. This is made clear in two ways. The f i r s t is that every time the question is introduced its context suggests personal connotations. And secondly, Prufrock always reacts by dropping the question himself. The conclusion of this stanza accomplishes this neatly. The lines following the introduction of the question of "you and me" quickly re-establish the passive mood: Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea. The manner in which the three key terms--indecisions, visions, and revisions--are manipulated, f i r s t by rhyme and then by transforming the term "visions" with its subjective personal connotations into the term "revisions" is masterful not only in the poetry but also in the psychology of evasion. And the mundane "taking of a toast and tea" is the perfectly appropriate conclusion to such an escape. And i t brings Prufrock back to the faceless room of faceless puppet-women talking of Michelangelo. The next stanza repeats the pattern with one significant variation; i t is more specific in Prufrock's mind--the picture is clearer. Rather than the highly ambiguous "preparing of faces" or "hands that l i f t and drop a question," the scene is clearly the room of women which 33 Prufrock, attired in specifically described finery, approaches by the (typically Eliotic) flight of stairs. However, the verbal ambiguity and equivocation remain. S t i l l "there will be time" even i f the time is associated with more specific actions than are present in the preceding stanza. However, even the increasing specificness is manipulated. For, in the f i r s t place, Prufrock is specific only about superficial (even trivial) things: his clothing is described with more detail than anything in the poem. And when he describes his actions, they are a l l movements of retreat. He descends the stairs. The view the women have of him is from the rear. Even the lines, And indeed there will be time To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?" are marked by a certain ambiguity; one is led to ask i f Prufrock is thinking of two separate things, or of a continual indecision. Is one of these "darings" different from the other. Again the probable answer is that not only are we unable to t e l l , but Prufrock himself is waxing rhetorically but meaninglessly. Does he dare risk uncomplimentary judgments from the women, or does he dare 'risk looking directly at his own personality? Or, perhaps, does he wish to avoid saying anything which is significant? What Prufrock is doing here, in fact, is again saying something which sounds significant and appropriate without meaning anything at a l l specific. And again when any suggestion of significant and specific meaning arises, Prufrock immediately shifts the focus of his rhetoric to escape: 34 In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse. The nature of a l l of these special "literary effects--the dramatic rhetoric, the private language, the symbol making--imply that they are a l l part of Prufrock's conscious lexicon. He introduces and manipulates these rhetorical techniques purposely, partly I have suggested to manufacture poses or masks that will both hide his real weaknesses and s t i l l appear credible enough to believe in. Another way of saying this (using terms which Eliot himself often used) is to say that Prufrock, throughout his reverie attempts to formulate a self-confession which will avoid confessing any of the weaknesses (and there are many) in his personality. A l l his literary effects are aimed toward this end, a fact which helps to explain both why he always stops short of real confession and why he always seems to be saying more than he really is. In this sense, Prufrock represents much of the worst in what Eliot saw as the vice of Romantic self-confession. By examining Prufrock's attempts at confession (even to himself) we can see clearly Eliot's objections."* Throughout the f i r s t half of the poem, Prufrock makes a number of abrupt statements which look like confession. For example when he says: I have measured out my l i f e with coffee spoons, i t appears that he has looked at his l i f e and is confessing the weakness that he has found. On the surface this appears to be an accurate assessment of himself, but examination shows that i t is not fully true. 3 5 In the fi r s t place, this statement is not li t e r a l ; i t is another piece of rhetoric, another symbol. Likewise when he describes his existence with the metaphor: . . . a l l the butt-ends of my days and ways, or when he exclaims: I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas, we cannot take him literally. These are a l l rhetorical and symbolic exclamations. Just as we do not finally believe that anything he does will "disturb the universe," we do not believe that he literally wishes to be a crab. Further, Prufrock himself does not believe these things in a literal sense. They are a l l part of the rhetoric and self-irony that dominate his reverie, and they are a l l more dramatically appropriate than true. This is a l l part of Prufrock's attempt to see himself in a dramatic light. These exclamations are poses; and the poses are not really attempts to create any true or accurate picture of himself, but rather attempts to create poses that are suitable to the dramatic situation. The irony that arises from these exclamations is not that the assertion is true, or even that Prufrock thinks they are true. It arises from the fact that they have l i t t l e to do with the truth. They are merely dramatically appropriate things to say and the test (to Prufrock) of their fittingness is not truth but dramatic appropriateness. That exclamations such as these are more true than false is irrelevant except that they show Prufrock is sensitive enough not to allow a complete falsehood to enter into his reverie. 36 That these exclamations are primarily attempts to escape a meaningful examination of his condition is made further evident by the fact that in most cases they are digressions from the central development of his reverie. The phrase, "I have measured out my l i f e with coffee spoons," for example, breaks up a stanza that would possess a more perfect logical development without i t : For I have known them a l l already, known them a l l - -Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I know the voices dying with a dying f a l l Beneath the music from a farther room. Both the syntax and the sense of this stanza and the two that follow i t , focuses directly upon the women who constitute Prufrock's symbol of the destination of his pilgrimage. Of these three stanzas in which Prufrock considers the women he wishes to v i s i t , only one does not contain such a digression. This is the last of the three, the only one to deal exclusively with the women. However, i t is the only one of the three in which Prufrock says he is digressing. It is ironic that the digression which he points out is not a digression at a l l . This stanza is about the women's arms (the f i r s t is about their voices and the second, their eyes) and the digression, as Prufrock calls i t , concerns itself explicitly with the subject of the stanza, the women's arms. The explanation for this (deliberate, i t would seem) twisting of what is true by Prufrock lies in his continuing attempts to avoid commenting directly upon his own personality. The women, we have seen, represent to him an objectification of his own conception about himself, 37 an objectification which he attempts to control. That i s , i f the women represent to him something of his own weaknesses, the f u t i l i t y of his "presuming" or "beginning" with them undergoes a kind of transferral in his mind; i f i t is futile to approach the symbol of his personal failure, i t is also futile to examine the failure itself. This kind of fatuous reasoning is most obvious in the poem whenever Prufrock finds himself closest to direct examination of his own personality. And by the same token, when he finds himself closest to true self-confrontation, such evasions as the "digressions" he uses in these stanzas become most obvious. In addition, these three stanzas in which Prufrock argues for the fu t i l i t y of reconsidering what he has "known already" reveal an increasing sense of desperation. Quite clearly Prufrock is more comfortable dealing with things than with people. He attempts to create objective symbols of the women; again he does this in part through the rhetorical device of synecdoche. The women are in turn voices, eyes and arms, a l l of which are defined by gestures only. I have suggested the irony involved in Prufrock's labelling of his comments about the women's arms a "digression." But there is an additional irony involved in this, for we are able to see that in a sense which Prufrock himself perhaps does not understand, i t is a digression; everything about the women is digression, for Prufrock's real pilgrimage is a personal one, and everything that is used to help him avoid that is a digression of sorts.^ In the f i r s t half of the poem, then, Prufrock deliberately 38 attempts to create a reverie which looks like self-confession but which actually avoids i t . Prufrock manages to combine rationalization with just enough truth to accomplish this, and the result is a dramatic, rhetorical pose which in most cases avoids making the final step into simple analysis of his personality. In fact, Prufrock has created a personality for himself which is a highly complicated rationalization for weaknesses which he does not wish (or dare) to admit. At the same time, however, there exists in the reverie a sense of desperation as Prufrock is driven more nearly back into his most basic self. The imagery signifies the increasingly personal nature of the reverie. The images which open the poem--the streets, cafes, smoke, etc--are chiefly impersonal and objective, more or less completely external to Prufrock. Because the images are "safe" for Prufrock to handle, he can associate himself with them in an impersonal manner. He can define himself by them and yet control them, consequently maintaining fairly f u l l control over the personality which he creates for himself. But as the poem progresses the images divide into two categories. On the one hand they become more directly personal--from the apparel he wears to the insect "sprawling on a pin." And on the other hand they become even more externalized, particularly the women. Although the women are invented by Prufrock to suit his needs, they are also creatures over which he has less control than the purely material objects such as streets because they too are personalities, even i f only small ones. This polarization of imagery is indicative of 39 Prufrock's increasing desire to keep his confession impersonal. The two short stanzas that follow t h i s question, "how should I presume?" are i n a sense the f i n a l desperate attempt that Prufrock makes to remain impersonal. A f t e r asking himself how he should begin, he answers with another r h e t o r i c a l question: Sha l l I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets And watched the smoke that r i s e s from the pipes Of lonely men i n shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . Prufrock i s attempting, f i r s t , to reintroduce the o r i g i n a l symbols--the streets., the smoke, etc. But i n t h i s case the formulation i s broken o f f because of i t s obviously unsatisfactory nature, unsatisfactory not only because t h i s i s c l e a r l y not the way to a woman's s e n s i b i l i t y , but also because i t i s the way to Prufrock's own. For i n addition to the streets and smoke, Prufrock has added the lonely men i n s h i r t -sleeves, leaning out of windows, an image which c l e a r l y approximates Prufrock's own condition ( i t would be tempting to suggest that t h i s i s Prufrock's own posture during his reverie). Indeed, the image of the lonely men prompts the most highly self-dramatizing lament i n the poem:' I should have been a p a i r of ragged claws S c u t t l i n g across the floors of s i l e n t seas. This, more than any of the s i m i l a r "confessions" i n the poem, has a sense of urgency about i t , not necessarily because Prufrock actually wishes i t , but because such a lament i s necessary to rescue Prufrock from the image he has created of himself. He has come closer than he wishes to r e a l self-confrontation, so he creates a dramatic image which serves 40 to drive out the more immediate one. Immediately a f t e r t h i s the poem breaks and Prufrock appears to make a whole new s t a r t , with an image that r e c a l l s the opening images of the f i r s t two stanzas, with the i r q u a l i t i e s of sensual passiveness (here sensual to the point of being sexual--although passive rather than active sexuality). And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully! Smoothed by long f i n g e r s , Asleep...tired...or i t malingers, Stretched on the f l o o r , here beside you and me. I t appears that the entire progression i s about to begin again, with a created world of external symbols--the afternoon, the fingers, the f l o o r -by which Prufrock can define himself. But the following l i n e s reveal that Prufrock i s at t h i s point incapable of recovering h i s impersonal point of view for long. The l i n e s , Should I, after tea and cakes and i c e s , Have the strength to force the moment to i t s c r i s i s ? are abrupt i n ways that suggest that Prufrock has l o s t control of his point of view. In the f i r s t place, the rhyme, which has previously been used exclusively to work back to o b j e c t i v i t y , leads him now more deeply w i t h i n h i s own underworld. That i s , previously rhyme has been used i n a sense as i f Prufrock were conscious of i t , as i f he were 7 manipulating i t . On the other hand, the " i c e s - c r i s i s " rhyme seems to upset and reverse Prufrock's conscious meditation. I t r e c a l l s him suddenly and abruptly into a world--a point of view--he has been at pains to avoid. The irony i n t h i s rhyme i s f o r the f i r s t time not 41 p r i m a r i l y an irony that Prufrock directs upon himself. And the remainder of the stanza works quickly and inevitably toward Prufrock 1s " c r i s i s . " However, there i s a f i n a l e f f o r t to create external symbols, to view himself and his s i t u a t i o n i r o n i c a l l y . But the symbols he chooses are r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from those preceding. They are not from his own personal experience--his own private imagination--but rather are h i s t o r i c a l heroic figures who we see (but Prufrock apparently f a i l s to see) are only h a l f appropriate to the role Prufrock assigns them. John the Baptist and, i n a sense, the "eternal Footman" bear c e r t a i n i r o n i c 8 resemblances to Prufrock; but they leave no room for the kind of evasion of s e l f that has marked his reverie to th i s point. In addition the e x p l i c i t use of a concept which has been c e n t r a l l y avoided to th i s point hurries the c r i s i s . When Prufrock says, Should I, after tea and cakes and i c e s , Have the strength to force the moment to i t s c r i s i s ? [my i t a l i c s ] , he, apparently unwittingly, involves himself i n a complex of ironies that he cannot handle. In the f i r s t place, the, term, "strength" involves him i n a consideration of hi s own personality, f o r the dominant charac-t e r i s t i c of his personality i s i t s lack of strength. Consequently, he does force the moment to i t s c r i s i s , i r o n i c a l l y not because of his strength, but because of hi s weakness. In th i s sense, p a r t i c u l a r l y as i t comes immediately a f t e r four l i n e s of pleasant daydream, i t adds to the sense that the central confession, the point of lowest descent into hi s personality, i s a c t u a l l y unintentional. The use of the word 42 "strength" has the appearance of a slip of the tongue. Thus, even i f Prufrock is thinking only of his imagined vi s i t to a room f u l l of women when he says this, his words become so personal to him, so close to his own personal character, that the whole set of objective symbols he has constructed breaks down. Neither the women nor any of the familiar symbolic objects appear again in this stanza. Instead we get John the Baptist, whose death came through strength, not weakness, and Prufrock dissociates himself from John the Baptist with the weary (although s t i l l somewhat dramatic) disclaimer, "I am no prophet--and here is no great matter," a statement patently untrue in the second part, for here is a great matter to Prufrock. Likewise, the symbolic eternal footman represents almost entirely Prufrock's own personal failure and lack of character: I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, This is so personal that i t is Prufrock's final dramatic and rhetorical pose, for following comes the only line in the poem that possesses absolutely no quality of self-dramatization, or irony; the only straight-forward statement Prufrock makes about himself in the entire poem: And, in short, I was afraid. The force of this line is of central importance in the poem. It contains no self-de6ejptiont6irnseli£-irony;>'e6n,se'quently i t is the only line in the poem in which Prufrock actually confronts himself with a fact of his own condition without describing i t in terms of external 43 objects or symbols. In th i s context i t s bareness and directness conveys a sense of t e r r o r , but also of purpose, that i s absent from the r e s t of the poem. I t i s his confrontation with the "boredom and the horror" (The Use of Poetry. . . p. 106), but i t i s also the point of recognition which i n a l l of E l i o t ' s poetry i s necessary for salvation. But here arises the f i n a l irony i n the use of the term "strength." I t has taken Prufrock some 85 l i n e s to state t h i s truth about himself, but instead of using i t , Prufrock immediately begins to r a t i o n a l i z e back to the "safety" of his dramatic (though false) poses. Before we look at these f i n a l r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s , however, i t w i l l be necessary to examine one more aspect of the relationship displayed i n th i s stanza between Prufrock's most personal consciousness and the world of objects to which he attaches himself.' We have seen that the poem before t h i s stanza i s marked by a world that i s e n t i r e l y self-created. That i s , everything i s seen through the point of view that Prufrock establishes, and that, further, i t i s the point of view, not the external world, that f i n a l l y occupies our., attention. I have suggested that with the introduction of John the Baptist, a h i s t o r i c a l figure that has a r e a l existence i n i t s own r i g h t , this world Prufrock has created begins to crumble. And i t crumbles because i t cannot stand up to the implied world of moral values represented by John the Baptist. Thus,, the f i n a l irony of the stanza i s one which Prufrock does not see at a l l . In grasping for some sort of external symbol, Prufrock i s led d i r e c t l y to his own personality, which he i s forced to admit i s weak. 44 This i s what marks the essential difference between his confession--"and i n short, I was afraid,"--and others, such as " I have measured out my l i f e with coffee spoons," and "I should have been a p a i r of ragged claws." In these others there i s a self-conscious mockery carried out by the persona upon himself, and a sort of a r t i f i c i a l pose, a sense of dramatic appropriateness. Thus, these confessions are i n a sense "impersonal." ~ They are also f a l s e . Prufrock, i n other words, as a dramatic character i s capable of dealing with himself only i n terms of external objects. We are reminded of E l i o t ' s comments on the personality i n Knowledge and Experience'. "The more of a personality i t [ i . e . , the " s e l f " ] i s , the more harmonious and self-contained, the more d e f i n i t e l y i t i s said to possess a "point of view" (p. 148). Prufrock i s neither harmonious nor self-contained i n t h i s sense. He i s divided i n h i s point of view and the f i r s t h a l f of the poem concerns i t s e l f with the tension caused by t h i s d i v i s i o n . And he i s not s e l f -contained i n the sense that he f i n a l l y does not possess the strength to look d i r e c t l y at himself, to be personal, i n fac t . In short, Prufrock himself lacks a strong personality, and his continual e f f o r t s to "escape from personality" must f a i l , f o r "of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what i t means to want to escape from these things" ("Tradition and the Individual Talent."). The remainder of the poem consists p r i m a r i l y of a number of r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n s through which Prufrock attempts to decide that any decisive action would not "have been worth i t , a f t e r a l l . " There i s a 45 shift into the past tense, suggesting that, as expected, Prufrock has indeed decided not to take any action. Instead of, "And indeed there will be time," or, "Shall I say," questions which anticipate a future, there is the rhetorical question, "And would i t have been worth i t , after a l l . " The question is repeated four times, and i t is phrased in such a way that to Prufrock the only answer is that which he finally gives: "NO!" To arrive at this answer Prufrock adopts his old habit of thinking in terms of objects. The two stanzas which precede the final "NO!" contain long lists of the things that have f i l l e d the f i r s t half of the reverie: cups, marmalade, tea, porcelain; sunsets, dooryards, sprinkled streets, novels, teacups, skirts that tr a i l along the floor, "and so much more." This, of course, is merely part of an attempt to avoid looking critically at the self, and instead to see the self in terms of objects and roles. These two stanzas in effect argue that the most intimate experiences and feelings of an individual are after a l l unimportant; the woman is not expected to take any interest in Prufrock's "buried l i f e " or in the patterns of his nerves. What is important in these stanzas are the things, the objects which have to do with social patterns and, presumably, social roles. This is confirmed in the Prince Hamlet stanza in which Prufrock seems content to define himself wholly in terms of roles--even more emphatically, in terms of dramatic roles. He is not suited, he tells himself, to play the heroic role, so he must be content to play the supporting role. Yet 46 whatever peace of mind is brought by the recognition of a fixed place in the order of things is tinged with the regrets which accompany the knowledge that i t is a second rate position. It may be comforting to know you have a secondary (at times foolish) role; i t would be far more satisfying to know you deserved the heroic role. Nevertheless, i t is . significant that Prufrock finally chooses to define himself in terms of acting rather than of being. This fact is emphasized by the fact that the long description of his role is done without the personal pronoun. He says "I" when he describes what he is not, but when he describes the role he will accept he begins: Am an attendant lord, etc. This is highly unusual in a monologue in which the f i r s t person pronoun occurs more frequently even than the definite article. In the Prince Hamlet passage Prufrock finally reveals what he is afraid of. He is afraid that his own personality is unimportant: he imagines "the woman" dismissing both the confession of his most secret and bitter personal experience as well as his deepest and most individual psychological make-up. His imaginary woman is not only uninterested in his being "Lazarus, come from the dead," but when his nerves are exposed, thrown in pattern on a screen, the woman does not wish to observe, as Prufrock imagines her, "turning toward a window" as she tells him, "That is not i t at a l l . " In addition, he knows that his social role is both hollow and ill-played. It is really the role of clown, or at best, fool, satisfied 47 with "swelling a progress" and concerned mainly with such trivial matters as the cuff on his trousers or the part of his hair. Thus, having recognized that his attempts at self-definition through both private and social personality have failed, i t is not strange that Prufrock should sink into a romantic dream to conclude his reverie. That the final lines are largely a romantic escape from Prufrock's recent discovery is made clear, I think, in a number of ways. Most obviously, there is an abundance of equivocation. Even the f i r s t denial of the mermaids is not definite: "I do not think that they will sing to me," suggests that, on the other hand, they might after all,.and the final six lines have almost nothing to do with their singing to him; in fact, the lines: We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown, implies at least two separate ambiguities. First, the lines suggest that even i f the girls are not singing to Prufrock, they are sharing their chambers with him. Even more ambiguous is the syntax of this statement. At f i r s t sight i t seems straightforward enough; he has lingered by (i.e., next to) the sea girls who are wreathed with seaweed. But the statement is phrased in such a way that i t could possibly mean that Prufrock is suggesting that "We have lingered in the chambers of the sea" and while there, have been wreathed with seaweed by the sea-girls. Clearly this secondary possibility is not to be taken too literally, but i t is consistent with Prufrock's habit throughout the poem of suggesting much that is largely rhetorical, of leaving an out 48 for himself. Taken together with the dreamlike, lyrical tone of the final lines (a tone missing from the rest of the poem) and the fact that the sea and the sea-girls seem to have l i t t l e relationship with the imagery of the rest of the poem, this would seem to suggest that Prufrock cannot cope with the reality of his self-analysis and is consequently forced into a daydream. This surely is consistent with everything that Eliot ever said both about the personality and about romantic escape. Romanticism, in fact, was always to Eliot a result of too much reliance on the personality, hoping i t will produce a kind of satisfaction i t is not capable of bringing. Prufrock in part suffers from living in a time in which, to use a phrase from Eliot's essay on Dante, " i t is difficult to conceive of an age (of many ages) when human beings cared somewhat about the salvation of the "soul," but not about each other as personalities." (Selected Essays, p. 233). Prufrock lacks the "sense of intellectual and spiritual realities that Dante had" and consequently he does not seem to know what Dante (according to Eliot) knew: what use to make of his personal experience, particularly his experience with women. What is particularly ironic in "Prufrock" is that Prufrock seems to recognize something of the importance of caring about "the salvation of the soul," but his values and ideas are so thoroughly "modern" that he takes this concern as another of his weaknesses. It has been suggested 9 that he is an idealist without the strength to match his ideals. But even i f he did possess the strength i t is doubtful i f he sees his 49 situation clearly enough to know what to do about i t . He is no prophet, not only because he does not have the strength to force the moment to its crisis, but also because he does not possess the necessary vision. He has only a vague feeling (hardly an idea at all) that his personality might be important in some way that touches on spiritual values. This expresses itself most clearly when he considers: Would i t have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To r o l l i t towards some overwhelming question, To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to te l l you a l l , I shall t e l l you a l l . " But the context in which this is put is clearly a l l wrong: Prufrock is formulating a "love song" for an afternoon tea. This kind of comment in that setting would have an effect like that of Carrie Nation on America's taverns: i t might break up the party but i t will never revise patterns of behavior. What is wrong in Prufrock's understanding of his situation is that he confuses spiritual and social matters: spiritual rejuvenation may be in order, but not as a remedy for his social failure. This is a "love song," and a superficial one at that, and Prufrock seems uncertain about the difference between dealing with a social crisis and a spiritual one. This confusion is associated with a theme that pervades most of Eliot's work: the failure of human relationships. In specific terms, the confusion between spiritual and social matters may be paraphrased into terms of personality. Prufrock feels something is lacking, and he senses, rather vaguely, that the lack is a spiritual one. But most 50 of the expression of this failure is made in terms of social personality. He also seems to recognize the superficiality in the conventions of the social world to which he aspires. He clearly knows that what he aspires to socially is superficial, (though he likes to describe i t occasionally in spiritual terms), but a l l of his efforts are directed towards gaining those superficial and hollow goals he satirizes. In short, Prufrock feels that his personality is weak, but he thinks at the same time that those whom he would woo (or whom he would emulate) are flawed by personalities which are superficial and false. He vaguely senses that this condition is somehow indicative of a spiritual failure, but because the spiritual is so alien to his world, a l l his efforts towards "disturbing the universe" are also superficial, from preparing a face to rolling his trouser cuffs. And as he recognizes that these superficial remedies, a l l of which are merely refurbishings of the "personality," are bound to f a i l , his final remedy is escape into a pleasant romantic dream, a poor substitute for any real spiritual consolation. One important result of this process in Prufrock's reverie is what i t does to people. I have suggested that a l l of the secondary "characters" in the poem are seen only as objects; they have no independent l i f e of their own apart from Prufrock's conception of them. The women who are presumably the objects of Prufrock's contemplation are not really women at a l l . For the most part they are arms or eyes or voices that exist only as they affect Prufrock. They are also mostly collective; when an individual appears he is always indistinct, always 51 merely "someone." I suggested also that Prufrock seems to think of the women in this way deliberately because i t permits him to manipulate them. The women never speak; we hear only what Prufrock imagines (or fears) they might say. Consequently i t is really always Prufrock who is speaking. The women are completely reduced to objects which are extensions of his own personality. Perhaps he does this because i t is safer for him to reduce a l l personalities to his own level, perhaps i t is merely that he is incapable of doing anything else. But whatever the reason, the result is clear. Prufrock's view of the world is solipsistic: he is clearly most comfortable when his is the only personality present, and this is clearly because his personality is incapable of bringing him the satisfaction or fulfillment he desires. In other words, the result of his weak personality is the reduction of other personalities to nothing wherever possible, and this is possible chiefly when one is alone. Thus Prufrock must decide not to make his vis i t , just as the young man in "Portrait of a Lady" must escape to Europe. There is a chapter in Eliot's thesis on F. H. Bradley that concerns itself with just this problem, and i t is instructive to look at i t in terms of "Prufrock" (and many of the other earlier poems). In Chapter 6, Eliot treats the question of the relationship between the solitary individual with his own absolutely unique point of view and other individuals with their various points of view. The argument is that each individual possesses a point of view, a perspective, which 52 is absolutely private. In addition there is no standard objective criterion by which any individual's point of view may be measured or judged. Therefore, each man i s , in a sense, an island, totally dependent upon his own subjective point of view (or in the jargon of Bradley, his own "finite centre"). Each individual's perception of his world, then, is for him the only possible "real" world. Now, this kind of subjective individualism must somehow be reconciled with a "social" world--a world that consists of many other individuals who a l l possess their own points of view. In other words, an individual must learn both that he sees things differently from every other individual and yet that he is part of a larger structure which is also a unity. Reconciliation between these two worlds depends upon what Eliot calls "strength of personality." In Bradley's world of finite centres and immediate experience, the only way in which human relationships can be formed at a l l is through the "good wil l " of individuals, and this good will arises only when individuals are certain enough of their own points of view to be willing to accept the fact that others possess different and equally valid points of view. A strong personality, as Eliot uses the term, is most willing to accept the existence of other personalities; a weak personality, such as Prufrock's, feels that the existence of other personalities is a threat to his own. Consequently, in Eliot's words: 53 The more of a personality [the individual] i s , the more harmonious and self-contained, the more definitely i t is said to possess a "point of view," a point of view toward the social world. (Bradley, p. 148) Prufrock does not, in this sense, possess a point of view toward the social world. Instead he attempts to deny its existence, or failing that, at least his relationship to i t . So he concludes by creating a dream world in which everything as far as possible, operates from his own point of view. Central as this question of the relationship of one personality to another is to "Prufrock," i t is even more obviously treated in "Portrait of a Lady," written at about the same time as "Prufrock." One of the chief differences between the two poems is that "Portrait" deals with two specific and clearly delineated (for Eliot) characters; "Prufrock" with only one.^ The narrator of "Portrait," who in spite of the tit l e is the central character, is similar to Prufrock in some respects. Although he is perhaps more humble about his lack of strength (he asks i f he is "right or wrong" in several places), he is distinguished primarily by the fact that he cannot deal with other personalities. Whenever the Lady makes any kind of personal demand on him he retreats into a pose: his fir s t concern is always to maintain his "self-possession," and when this becomes too difficult, he runs like a primitive animal. This pattern recurs in each of the three scenes. In the f i r s t , the narrator begins with a tone of superiority (reminiscent of the f i r s t stanza of "Prufrock") as he sets the scene. The tone is that of Laforgue--tired, cynical, yet with the understanding that the cynic is also part of the action. But 54 this is not the poet's attitude; i t is the young man's. For when the Lady begins to make personal demands, when she sets the emotional trap for him--"How much i t means that I say this to you"--he recognizes the "false note" and begins to suffer a primitive, perhaps panicky, reaction: "Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins." And his only recourse is escape: --Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance, Admire the monuments, Discuss the late events, Correct our watches by the public clocks. Then s i t for half an hour and drink our bocks. These last two images are particularly appropriate. In a situation in which one personality has been threatened by another,^ what could be more reassuring than the "public clocks,',' which provide some sort of objective standards; and what better escape than the half hour in the pub? In the second scene the relationship has already begun to sour. The Lady continues to set her emotional snare, cajoling, threatening, anything that might force the narrator to commit himself. He.of course is equally determined to avoid commitment. When she begins to confess her private feelings and her "buried l i f e " he "smile[s], of course,/ and go[es] on drinking tea." (This is reminiscent of Prufrock's attempts to confess himself being met with indifference. Eliot's characters are not interested in the buried lives of their acquaintances--only their own.) The social poses at least give a show of self-possession. At least the Lady interprets them that way and says that the young man is invulnerable. But this is really just another attempt to make him commit 55 himself emotionally through arousing his pity. As a result he must escape once more to his public activities, reading comics and noticing public scandals and murders (ironic crimes of passion). However, a new dimension, one which was not present in the first scene, is introduced at this point: the young man concludes by asking i f his recollections of desires are right or wrong. This prefigures the last line in the poem--"And should I have the right to smile?"--and again suggests the sixth chapter of the Bradley thesis. In discussing the relationship between personalities Eliot comments that there can be no right or wrong, truth or error, from any single point of view: I have tried to show that there can be no truth or error without a presentation and discrimination of two points of view. (Bradley, p. 142) Since the young man's understanding of the Lady is only partial and superficial he does not really have any standard to measure truth or error. However, since at least he recognizes that there are two points of view present, he knows that he does not have the ability to judge right and wrong. Consequently, he is left in a kind of limbo typical of many of Eliot's characters, feeling that something is not quite right but not knowing exactly what i t is, and consequently being forced to throw up his hands in despair and escape into some sort of isolation. Thus, his announcement in the final scene that he is going abroad is similar to Prufrock's decision to take his walk along the beach instead of visiting the women. It seems to me to be highly significant that 56 in this third section of "Portrait" there is far less description of settings and of the woman, and relatively more space devoted to describing the subjective feelings and moods of the narrator. Except for brief references to the stairs and the bric-a-brac, the room is ignored; a l l that is present are the demands of the woman--"Perhaps you will write to me"--and the narrator's panicky attempt to retain his self-possession. As a result, a l l that remains from the beginning of the poem is the basic conflict between personalities, and the resolution of the conflict is not a resolution at a l l , but rather an escape. The narrator appears to recognize that the conventional masks will not work: And I must borrow every changing shape To find expression . . . dance, dance Like a dancing bear, Cry like a parrot, chatter like an ape. Let us take the air, in a tobacco trance--This is a disconnected and largely illogical parody of the earlier escapes into public activities, and i t is introduced by a "confession" which again reminds us of the central theme: what constitutes the individual, isolated personality. How, in other words, does one know i f the social smile or the personal terror is the more real. The narrator has already commented on this explicitly: I feel like one.who smiles, and turning shall remark Suddenly, his expression in a glass. My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark. The ironic paradox which lies behind a l l this uncertainty is made quite clear in the concluding stanza. The narrator imagines himself abroad, having escaped the physical presence, but not the 57 influence, of the Lady, and hearing of her r e a l death before he has come to terms with her demands as a personality--he i s s t i l l s i t t i n g pen i n hand, Doubtful, for a while Not knowing what to f e e l or i f I understand Or whether wise or f o o l i s h , tardy or too soon . . . These of course are fine philosophical questions, c i v i l l y phrased, about the universal questions of man's relationships with others, but they are not the r e a l question f i n a l l y ; that i s suggested by the revealing l i n e : Would she not have the advantage, after a l l ? I t i s the personal terror that l i e s behind everything i n t h i s poem (as i n most of the early poems), a terror that one's personality, one's i n d i v i d u a l i t y , might be eradicated. Like Prufrock, the young man i n t h i s poem i s possessed by fear of being counted a nothing, of losing his personality. And he fears losing i t because i t i s not strong and s e l f -s u f f i c i e n t . The weakness of the personality makes human relationships merely a matter of "advantages" and of domination. The narrator cannot but think i n terms of "having the r i g h t to smile"--a r i g h t that can come only when one i s i n a superior p o s i t i o n . I f i t turns out that the Lady has the advantage, then the narrator loses h i s r i g h t to smile, and t h i s loss i s symbolic of a loss of i n d i v i d u a l i t y . Fear leads to egotism, and egotism gets confused with personality. This confusion i s i n part a confusion between the public masks and the ind i v i d u a l l i f e , and i t r e s u l t s i n the breakdown of human relationships i n E l i o t ' s poetry from 58 Prufrock and his women to the clerk and the typist in The Waste Land. The narrators of a l l the poems before Ash Wednesday suffer from an isolation that comes because they are afraid to admit the presence and the validity of other personalities equal to themselves. They are a l l , in one sense or another, solipsists; consequently they a l l suffer from moral confusion. This theme can be seen in most of the early poetry. Usually the narrator or central character is, in spite of his efforts to remain inviolate, drawn into the "action" of the poem and as a result feels challenged or uneasy or afraid. This is what happens in "Preludes," where after the four l i t t l e fragments consisting in the impersonal rendering of feeling and emotion, the final seven lines involve a response, and therefore involvement, in the action: I am moved by fancies that are curled Around these images, and cling: . ., , The "fancies" cannot but be the narrator's own responses. In addition, the interplay between the romantic and the anti-romantic in this poem is telling. Ostensibly the play on the "prelude" form--which is typically romantic--to describe an unromantic urban existence is intended to be in part a satiric comment on romantic sensibility. But this satirical effect is muted by the final lines, in which the narrator is unable to maintain the satiric stance, and is drawn sympathetically to his subject. The same sort of pattern can be seen, even more clearly, in "La Figlia Che Piange." This poem opens with the persona clearly playing 59 the role of observer, a poetic stage-manager, placing his characters in appropriate poses. It then introduces a feeling that there remains something incomplete in this kind of pose: So I would have had him leave So I would have had her stand and grieve, So he would have left. The verb m©,od3 in these lines is ambiguous, suggesting that the pose and the action in the first stanza was not in fact satisfactory. And just as in "Preludes" and perhaps somewhat in "Portrait of a Lady" the in i t i a l pose smacks of romantic, melodramatic feeling. The final stanza then turns away from the melodramatic and describes, apparently, we are to believe, the actual parting: simply, She turned away. And as the melodramatic becomes the actual, there is a consequent emergence of the persona as an actor in the drama. Whether this is meant to represent a real experience of the persona, or only an image in the imagination, the pattern is clear. The persona is drawn into the action as the action becomes less "posed," less melodramatic, and rather more "real." In short, the common element in these earliest poems is their subjective bias: the manner of perception that informs a l l of them is personal, in most cases so pervasively personal as to omit any attachment to "real" external things. Whether the influence of Bradley was strong 12 or not in these years, the poems a l l deal with the fusion of perceiver and "object"--usually paying more attention to the perceiver than to the 60 perceived. Even i n a poem such as "Mr. Apollinax" (which was written later than the others we have considered, 1915) where the central character i s apparently Mr. Apollinax, the descriptions are a l l couched in terms of personal response: we know Mr. Apollinax only by the responses he invokes i n the persona of the poem. In fact, several of the poems contemporary with "Mr. Apollinax" are informed by similar assumptions. "The 'Boston Evening Transcript'" and "Morning at the Window," for example, contain hardly any objective "things;" they are composed entirely of moods and responses of their personae. However, I have also tried to suggest that there i s pervading this early poetry a sense, usually a vague sense, that this kind of subjective manner of perception i s not f i n a l l y sufficient. There i s a spectre of something outside, something "absolute" always lurking at the fringes of the personae's consciousnesses, and indeed of the poet's consciousness. It i s this unwillingness to dismiss completely the presence--or possibility--of an external absolute outside the perceiver's consciousness that led E l i o t to the next stage of his development, and possibly that led him to his careful study of Bradley. For throughout that thesis are continual references to the "approach to the absolute." The thesis concludes, And this emphasis upon practice--upon the r e l a t i v i t y and the instrumentality of knowledge--is what impels us toward the Absolute. And E l i o t comments upon this f i n a l sentence (which concludes the present form of the work because of the loss of the f i n a l pages) that " i t i s 61 suitable that a d i s s e r t a t i o n on the work of Francis Herbert Bradley should end with the words 'the Absolute.'" The f a c t i s that the f i r s t years i n B r i t a i n (1914-1917, or so) saw E l i o t increasingly occupied by external "objects of knowledge" and by non-human ( s t r i c t l y speaking) absolutes: the absolutes of " t r a d i t i o n , " of "culture," and of " r e l i g i o n . " Indeed, an essay such as "Tradition and the Individual Talent" could not have been written by the poet who was w r i t i n g "Prufrock" and " P o r t r a i t . " I t represents a further stage i n his development, a stage toward which Bradley very conceivably impelled him, and which was c e r t a i n l y influenced by Ezra Pound and T. E. Hulme. 62 CHAPTER 2 FOOTNOTES ± The Invisible Poet, p. 35. 2 Elizabeth Drew's description of E l i o t ' s dramatic characters i s interesting i n t h i s context: I t i s t h e i r states of mind and not t h e i r s o c i a l status which matters: attitudes not a c t u a l i t i e s . (T. S. Eliot: The Design of His Work. [New York, 1949] , p. 33.) Miss Drew, I think, exaggerates i n the same way Kenner and many other c r i t i c s do. The characters are "actual" enough--so are the s o c i a l matters. I t i s c h i e f l y that they are not treated i n the fashion of the nineteenth-^century novelist that leads to t h i s sort of exaggeration. 3 Approach to the Purpose: A Study of the Poetry of T. S. Eliot• (New York: Barnes § Noble, 1964). Part I , Chapters 3 and 4, i s p a r t i c u l a r l y relevant. ^ One of the least f r u i t f u l l i t e r a r y debates a r i s i n g from t h i s (or any) poem raged i n Notes & Queries f o r several months i n 1950 and 1951 and f i n a l l y f a i l e d to resolve the question whether the Lazarus mentioned by Prufrock i s the Lazarus Jesus raised or the Lazarus from the Parable of Lazarus and Dives. 5 I am drawing f o r the most part on E l i o t ' s long essay on "Dante," although there are numerous other references throughout his prose writings. ^ This unwitting t e l l i n g of the truth by a character i n the poem i s used often by E l i o t . For the most thorough explanation of how i t works, see Cleanth Brooks' essay,-- uThe Waste Land: Critique of the Myth," which appeared as chapter 7 i n Modern Poetry and the Tradition (Chapel H i l l : The University of North Carolina Press, 1939) and has been reprinted a number of times. 7 For example, see my comments above on the l i n e s , And time yet for a hundred indecisions And f o r a hundred visions and revisions. One of the most common c r i t i c a l comments about Prufrock i s that his idealism, i n which he i s s i m i l a r to these heroic figures, exceeds his powers to act--a theme, i n c i d e n t a l l y , common to most of E l i o t ' s work. See for example Grover Smith's suggestion that Prufrock's " t r a g i c flaw" i s his i n a b i l i t y to act, and his " t r a g i c curse" i s his idealism; together they make him wretched. (7. S. Eliot's Poetry and Plays, [Chicago, 1956], Part I, Ch. 2). 63 3 See Grover Smith. Hugh Kenner says that the r e l a t i v e lack of success of " P o r t r a i t of a Lady" i s due to i t s uneven characterization (The.Invisible Poet} p. 26). The lady, he says, i s given s p e c i f i c characterization, the young man i s not. This i s true, of course, but i t i s not unusual f o r anyone to have a more s p e c i f i c idea of an acquaintance than of himself, and since the young man i s the narrator, he w i l l n a t u r a l l y be more s p e c i f i c about the lady, whom he observes more objectively than he does himself. So i t i s not r e a l l y a question of uneven characterization; i t i s a question of d i f f e r e n t kinds of characterization. 11 I t seems s i g n i f i c a n t that E l i o t chose.his t i t l e from a n o v e l i s t whose central themes include what happens when people t r y to dominate other people. 12 Kenner says that E l i o t did not buy his own copy of Bradley u n t i l 1915, suggesting that Bradley's influence before that time should be discounted. However, i t seems to me unreasonable to conclude that Bradley's influence could not have begun before E l i o t purchased h i s book. CHAPTER 3 NO CONTACT POSSIBLE TO FLESH: IMPERSONALITY AS LOST PASSION The personae of the earliest poems have several qualities in common. A l l are self-centred; a l l seek some way to bolster their egos, and in varying degrees a l l turn away from the outside world to accomplish this. Prufrock escapes into his own dream world; the narrator of "Portrait of a Lady" imagines himself escaping to another country; the narrator of "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" loses himself in a kind of adolescent cynicism, which is another kind of escape. In one way or another a l l are trying to deal with the difficulties that arise from living in a world in which others do not agree with our intuitive feeling that we are important. It is quite natural that we should want to think -ourselves significant; and i f acquaintances do not also think, so, then there must be some kind of rationalization to compensate. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to discount contrary opinions. Thus, Prufrock suggests to himself that the ladies' lack of regard for him is connected with their superficial social world; so in varying ways do the rest of the personae. And once other's opinions are safely out of the way, then these personae are free to enter into their own private worlds in which everything radiates from, and returns to, themselves. 65 This, I think, accounts i n part f o r the d i s t i n c t i v e mood i n a l l of E l i o t ' s early poems, for whatever the means of escape, i t i s always somehow unsatisfactory, r e s u l t i n g i n the " s l i g h t ache" which Kenner says marks the early poetry."'' Besides the obvious problems, i t i s too exhausting to be always creating a dream world, and one of the ways i n which poems such as Ash Wednesday and the Four Quartets d i f f e r most strongly from the early poems i s i n t h e i r r e l a t i v e peacefulness and serenity of tone (although they deal with many of the same themes). Much of the poetry between Prufrock And Other Observations and Ash Wednesday i s concerned with the search for ways to resolve t h i s human dilemma, and the poems written between 1915 and 1920 ( c h i e f l y the quatrain poems and "Gerontion") explore a number of p o s s i b i l i t i e s (some f a i r l y radical) regarding the personality. I t i s during t h i s time that E l i o t wrote "Tradition and the Individual Talent" suggesting that poetry should aim for the "e x t i n c t i o n " of the personality. And several of the quatrain poems--notably "Sweeney among the Nightingales" and "Burbank with a Baedeker . . ."--nearly manage to do t h i s . These poems are impersonal i n the same way that Joyce's work i s ; i t i s w i t t y and i n t e l l e c t u a l (but not s t e r i l e ) and there i s always the sense that the a r t i s t creates but does not enter into his work. The sense of the impersonality of these poems i s increased by the f a c t that there i s no d i s t i n c t i v e narrator-personality as there i s i n the monologues, but even "Gerontion" i s more impersonal than are any of the e a r l i e r monologues. But whatever the s i m i l a r i t i e s , "Gerontion" and the quatrain poems 66 are obviously different enough to prevent many meaningful generalizations. In general, the quatrain poems focus attention pretty squarely upon objects rather than upon a consciousness or personality which perceives these objects. In "Gerontion" Eliot returns to the individual narrator, and consequently there is more emphasis upon the consciousness (and personality) of the narrator. Gerontion, one might say, is Prufrock with a sense of history; that i s , a more specific knowledge of what cannot be ignored. What Eliot tried in the formal quatrain poems stands between Prufrock and Gerontion, but even though some of the quatrain poems are very fine, they are in a sense a dead end; the major development moves from "Prufrock" and the other early monologues, through "Gerontion" to The Waste Land. In saying this I do not wish to imply that the quatrain poems are unimportant; on the contrary they allowed Eliot to see how far his "theory of impersonality" could be taken, and in what directions i t could be made to work. For that reason i t is necessary to look at some of them in detail. The quatrain poems (and to some extent the poems written in French) explore certain possibilities for the poet's voice. While i t may be dangerous to generalize about a group of poems whose only obvious similarity is a formal one, there are some things which may be said about these poems as a group. First is the form itself. The regularity and the restrictions imposed by the short-lined, rhymed quatrain stanza foster- objectivity. It prevents a voice inclined to stray off the 67 point; i t discourages the use of a personal narrator at a l l (the one quatrain poem which uses a personal narrator, "A Cooking Egg," i s the least successful of a l l Eliot's monologues). In most of the quatrain poems, E l i o t i s content to use an impersonal voice, a voice which i s more apt to think than to f e e l , to describe than to engage in intro-spection. It i s generally s a t i r i c a l , intelligent and clever rather than passionate or emotionally charged. This is apparent not only i n the numerous intellectual twists, barbs and jokes, but also i n the uneasy mixture which results when satire i s combined with a direct passionate appeal. For example, i n "A Cooking Egg" the narrator's lament, "Where are the eagles and the trumpets," i s not really compatible with such s a t i r i c a l passages as the "I shall not want . . . i n Heaven" passages. The freedom allowed by the irregular form of most of Eliot's monologues i s far better suited to a personal narrator's mental, psychological and sp i r i t u a l contemplation. Prufrock, for example, uses long, sonorous lines to escape the rigours of thinking; he uses rhymed couplets to escape emotional traps; he uses blank verse to play Polonius' dramatic role; and he uses a l y r i c a l free verse to wander inconclusively off at the end. This range is simply not present i n the quatrain poems; they do a different thing. The short line and the rhyme work best i n an objective manner--to describe, to set together disparate facts or ideas for s a t i r i c a l effect. The following stanza provides an excellent example of the quatrain's strength: 68 The couched Brazilian jaguar Compels the scampering marmoset With subtle effluence of-cat; Grishkin has a maisonette. That Grishkin is described as feline is not unusual, but that her maisonette is connected with the jaguar's subtle jungle skills i s , and the comparison is made in a witty and sophisticated manner. The "voice" which makes this comparison is not at a l l the kind of subjective personality present in the monologues. And the mood of the poem is created by playing one more-or-less objective fact against another, not by the manipulation of objects by a definable personality. Perhaps the specific manner in which the quatrain poems strive toward impersonality can best be illustrated by comparing some of them with such earlier non-dramatic short poems as "Cousin Nancy," "The Boston Evening Transcript," or "Preludes." The quat-rainrpaemsoplace a diminished emphasis upon the personal response and a corresponding increase in emphasis upon certain external and apparently incontrovertible facts, and there is a corresponding change in the kind of imagery and the way in which i t is used. First, the imagery used in the quatrain poems usually appears to be more objective, more factual, and less dependent upon a personal narrator for tJL&sr effect. Partly this is due to the method of the poems which is one of presenting side by side two or more different ideas or points of view. The fact that there are different points of view within a single poem prevents any one subjective point of view from dominating. On the other hand, many critics have complained about the more outrageous imagery found in the early short poems, images such as 69 the "damp souls of housemaids/ sprouting" like potatoes, or the wave to La Rochfoucauld as one enters the door, or the final seven lines of the "Preludes" in which a voice--presumably the poet's, but we are never quite sure--intrudes with the highly personal, I am moved by fancies that are curled Around these images, and cling: The notion of some infinitely gentle Infinitely suffering thing. It should be noted, however, that in themselves, none of these images is any more outrageous than several images from "Prufrock" or other mono-logues: nothing can compare with "the evening spread out against the sky/ like a patient etherized upon a table." The reason that the Prufrockian image is acceptable is that i t is made by Prufrock himself, and is in keeping with the character of Prufrock. However, in the shorter poems there is no specific narrator to whom the image can be attributed, and therefore the image is in a sense too "personal" for the poem. In the quatrain poems this problem is avoided by keeping the imagery straight-forward and factual. If there is anything unusual or striking about the imagery in the quatrains i t i s , f i r s t , that i t is absolutely accurate to objective observation, and second, that the dissimilar images are often thrown together in order to accentuate the two points of view. In "Whispers of Immortality" for example, one might well wonder what Grishkin is doing next to Donne and Webster, or in fact, what Grishkin's maisonette has to do with the manner in which the Brazilian jaguar compels the marmoset. Of course, when one understands the method of juxtaposition 70 that E l i o t i s using one i s no longer troubled by th i s unusual kind of abbreviation, f o r the images themselves are always objective and straightforward. To take another example: i f we compare the Emerson image from "Cousin Nancy" with the Emerson image from "Sweeney Erect" we see a si m i l a r r e s u l t . In "Cousin Nancy," Emerson, "guardian of the f a i t h , " represents the aunts' attitude toward thei r niece, the narrator's attitude toward the aunts, and perhaps even the narrator's attitude toward Emerson. His irony i s not r e a l l y very c l e a r l y directed: i s i t Emerson, the aunts, cousin Nancy, the narrator--or any number of possibilities--who f i n a l l y , . . . were not quite sure how they f e l t about i t ? The imagery does not r e a l l y c a l l i n any theory of histo r y or any h i s t o r i c a l f a c t f o r consideration. "Waldo" has merely become a symbol fo r o l d womanish New England conservatism. However, i n "Sweeney Erect" the reference to Emerson, more c l e a r l y a c a l l i n g i n of hi s t o r y , indicates a central theme i n the poem. The stanza i n which t h i s occurs i s placed c e n t r a l l y i n the poem, and requires us to compare Sweeney, the man, with a theory of histo r y that attempts to explain man's relationship with t r a d i t i o n : The lengthened shadow of a man Is h i s t o r y , said Emerson Who had not seen the silhouette Of Sweeney straddled i n the sun. The i n s e r t i o n of th i s stanza i n the middle of the poem raises two questions. F i r s t , i t asks us to question Emerson's concept of h i s t o r y and of human 71 nature: is the history of man, a l l man has achieved and recorded, to be summed up by Sweeney in a brothel, by Sweeney erect, in both the sexual and the Miltonic suggestions implied by the term. ^ And second, i t suggests that Sweeney is man "uncorrected by tradition" (or history). This suggestion then recalls the f i r s t two stanzas of the poem which imply, among other things, both an alternative view of history and something of the permanence of a flawed, violent human nature. Thus, the reference to Emerson in this poem introduces the theme of tradition for serious (although s t i l l ironic) consideration. This kind of imagery found in the quatrain poems depends, as I said, partly on the fact that there are always at least two more or less objective points of view presented. It also depends upon the fact that there is a stronger and more objective sense of tradition present in these poems. Often i t is history itself--or a view of history--which provides at least one of these points of view. In many of the quatrain poems the two points of view are really two views of history set side by side for inspection. "Burbank with a Baedeker. . ." perhaps illustrated this most clearly and completely. The two central views of history belong to Burbank and Bleistein, but suggestions of other views are also present: Ruskin's seven laws, the Greek mythology again, etc. The poem begins with an ironic contrast between Burbank's tryst with the Princess Vo lupine and the heroic, mythical terms in which i t is rendered: 72 Defunctive music under sea Passed seaward with the passing b e l l Slowly: the God Hercules Had l e f t him, that had loved him well. The horses, under the axletree Beat up the dawn from Is t r i a With even feet. Her shuttered barge Burned on the water a l l the day. Cleopatra become prostitute; and while She entertains S i r Ferdinand Klein, Burbank medidates upon Time's ruins, and the seven laws, another view that attempts to explain the tradition. But the f i n a l stanza, i n which Burbank thus meditates, the view of history i s one of decline from a heroic age: Who clipped the lion's wings And flea'd his rump and pared his claws? Bleistein on the other hand brings with him connotations of an "evolutionary" view of history. His lustreless protrusive eye Stares from the protozoic slime At a perspective of Canaletto. Yet he too is representative of a decline: The smoky candle end of time Declines. The implication must be either that Bleistein represents a coming f u l l c i r c l e of history, or more l i k e l y the suggestion that the individual i s always capable of declining; he i s never far from the protozoic slime 73 from which he f i r s t crawled. The next line, however, puts both views into perspective, and incidentally introduces the germ of a symbol that is to become increasingly important in Eliot's poetry. On the Rialto once. Here is the condensation of history, that of Bleistein, of Burbank, of Ruskin or of the Greeks, into an instant of time. The birth, maturation and decline of Bleistein, and the decline from a heroic age are reduced to the fragment, "On the Rial to once." A l l actions and a l l types exist in every age; everything can be found in any instant of time. Because things and people do not change, history and tradition become more important. The religious tradition is used in similar ways. Like the historical tradition in these poems there is no formulated view toward i t ; i t is just there, objective and transcendent of any single view. The emblematic motto in the epigraph to "Burbank with a Baedeker . . "nothing is permanent unless divine; the rest is smoke"--indicates the manner in which tradition and religion are used in a l l of these poems. "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service" illustrates this clearly. The pictures on the church windows are symbolic of the permanence of the religious facts, and are ironically juxtaposed with the history of a "controversial, polymath" theology. The poem begins with a picture of the "Word," the fact of Christianity: In the beginning was the word. But the word--or rather the human understanding and perception of the 74 word is altered by the "enervate Origen," an early theologian whose "heresy" was to begin the humanising of Christ.^ But the following two stanzas carry the implication that the polymath speculations of men or of schools ("A painter of the Umbrian school" designed the window) do not alter the fact of Christ. These two stanzas describe the picture representing the baptism of Christ, a picture that has cracked and faded with age. But through the water pale and thin S t i l l shine the unoffending feet. It is the work of man, and i t fades. The use of the word " s t i l l " with its connotations of both quiet and permanence emphasizes this. The f i r s t half of the poem deals with the contrast between the permanence of the external fact and the shifting views of the fact through history. The second half contrasts the modern service with another picture of permanence. Situated between the modern "sable presbyters" taking the offertory, the bees (new priests of the epicene), and Sweeney in his "baptismal font" appears the description of another scene from the windows: Under the penitential gates Sustained by staring Seraphim Where the souls of the devout Burn invisible and dim. The "souls of the devout" provide another image suggesting permanence. Like the "Word" and the picture of the baptism of Christ, the importance of this picture is not so much that i t is affirmed as true, but that i t is a standard that can be used to make judgments. It is the presence 75 of this kind of absolute, external standard that creates the central difference between these poems and the e a r l i e r ones. Without these pictures one would have to make a l l judgments upon Origen and the modern "sable presbyters" ^andeupons Sweeney i n h i s bath from standards brought from outside of the poem. This i s r e a l l y how the e a r l i e r poems work; they depend upon the assumption that, f o r example, the reader w i l l recognize what Prufrock's character i s lacking merely from the description of h i s character (the r e s u l t i s the " s l i g h t ache" Kenner mentions). There i s only a sense of f a i l u r e and f r u s t r a t i o n i n the e a r l i e r poems, but nothing d e f i n i t e and provable. In the quatrain poems the points of view become more s p e c i f i c ; the poems themselves contain the standards (often a number of d i f f e r e n t kinds of standards, i n fact) by which things, ideas and characters are to be judged. (One r e c a l l s the remark from E l i o t ' s thesis on Bradley I quoted i n the previous chapter: there can be no truth or error without a presentation and discrimination of two points of view.) Thus, "Mr. E l i o t ' s Sunday Morning Service" does not so much affi r m the " t r u t h " of C h r i s t i a n i t y as i t explores the p o s s i b i l i t y of judging human and i n s t i t u t i o n a l values by external forms. I t represents a p o s s i b i l i t y of combinations of facts and attitudes and suggests that (unlike Prufrock's world) changing human attitudes may not change the truth. Thus, i n these "impersonal" poems, poems i n which the poet and the personae both tend to disappear from view, the "points of view" (as E l i o t uses that term i n the 76 thesis on Bradley) become increasingly s p e c i f i c and d e f i n i t e . In a sense, the personae of these poems fade before large numbers of s p e c i f i c and external fa c t s . Instead of the personal consciousness of the personal narrator contemplating i t s e l f and other in d i v i d u a l s , these poems make use of less personal, more r a t i o n a l voices, looking outward for hard facts. And these facts are i n a sense larger than the indivi d u a l consciousness, and more permanent. As I mentioned before, a l l E l i o t ' s poems e x h i b i t grave d i s t r u s t of human relationships and of the ind i v i d u a l as a r e l i a b l e moral a r b i t e r . But where poems such as "Prufrock" suggest these human weaknesses i n terms of a f e e l i n g of emptiness (a " s l i g h t ache"), the poems we have j u s t considered represent them i n a more objective manner by setting several a l t e r n a t i v e , h i s t o r i c a l , r e l i g i o u s and s o c i a l points of view side by side f o r comparison. Thus they have become less personal because more objective. But they have also become i n a way less human. There i s always a danger f o r the poet ( p a r t i c u l a r l y one trained i n philosophy) to lose sight of the in d i v i d u a l i n h i s search f o r universal truths. But although E l i o t often seems about to lose his sense of compassion for the i n d i v i d u a l , something (perhaps his dramatic tempera-ment) seems to check him, to cause him to return to the i n d i v i d u a l . A f t e r the r e l a t i v e l y objective quatrain poems he returned to the monologue i n "Gerontion." Before going on to "Gerontion," however, we should look f o r a moment at E l i o t ' s one attempt to combine the personal perspective of 77 the monologue and the objective form of the quatrain form. "A Cooking Egg," i f not really successful, is yet one of the most interesting and ambitious of the quatrain poems since i t is also a monologue. Instead of the usual impersonal voice which presents different points of view, its persona is a dramatic personality with a specific point of view. It is different in this even from "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service" since in the latter poem the persona, as we have seen, represents an ironic view of several positions; i f i t were not for the t i t l e , we would have no reason to see the poem as any more "personal" than, say, "The Hippopotamus." However, in "A Cooking Egg" the persona-narrator is clearly relating and considering a personal experience which has affected him in the way we see Prufrock and others being affected. There are in "A Cooking Egg" two rather disturbing shifts of tone which are due, I think, to the mixture of the impersonal and the personal. The poem would flow more smoothly and be more unified i f the four "I shall not want . . . in Heaven" stanzas were omitted. The f i r s t two and the final two stanzas are personal in the way a l l the monologues are personal; taken together they create a scene in the narrator's mind, which he reflects on and reacts to (producing an emotional response). In the middle four stanzas the point of view suddenly shifts. The narrator presumably remains the same, but suddenly the whole tone changes to that which marks most of the quatrain poems. The quatrain form, as we have seen, can support this 78 kind of change, but the monologue cannot, without better psychological preparation. There i s too large a leap from the w i t t y and objective, "I s h a l l not want P i p i t i n Heaven," to the much more deeply f e l t , "But where i s the penny world I bought" (or even more, "Where are the eagles and the trumpets"). The form prevents enough development of a psychologically r e a l dramatic figure (a personality) as narrator to make t h i s kind of mental and emotional leap plausible (although a narrator l i k e Prufrock can, because he i s a personality). The problem with "A Cooking Egg," then, i s that although i t s two points of view are probably r a t i o n a l l y compatible, and even suggest a sense of unrealized hopes i n t h e i r juxtaposition, the juxtaposition i t s e l f lacks both psychological and poetic v e r i t y . The problem, i n a sense, i s the obverse of that which we see i n '"Morning at the Window." In that poem there are images which depend upon a strongly individualized narrator who, unfortunately, i s absent. In "A Cooking Egg" the narrator i s present, but i t i s d i f f i c u l t ^ t d c b e l i e v e i n his imagery; i n addition t h i s i s the only poem i n which E l i o t t r i e d to use a prescribed and regular form for the monologue. The highly formal poem, i n e f f e c t , proved to be too objective f o r the kind of personal treatment E l i o t wanted to employ, and after experimenting with i t , he returned to the monologue that used a free verse. One additional point cannot be ignored. I mentioned early that dramatic poetry avoids many of the most obvious problems regarding the intrusion of the poet's own voice into the poem, since the narrator's voice does not allow such an intrusion. In the quatrain poems--and 79 significantly, i n the French poems which are their contemporaries--this is hardly the case. Consequently there are several cases i n which E l i o t seems to speak i n his own voice. One thinks immediately of "Mr. Eliot's Sunday Morning Service" or "Melange Adultere de Tout" which seem to be observations made specifically by E l i o t upon himself. There i s also perhaps the introduction of the E l i o t i c voice i n a line such as, "Donne, I suppose, was such another" i n "Whispers of Immortality," and there i s the veiled naming of his own age and situation i n the epigraph to "A Cooking Egg." Individually these are small signs, veiled by foreign language, irony and quotation. Yet together they are important for they begin to point to the quite specifically personal narrators i n Ash Wednesday and Pour Quartets . Although small, this i s surely a sign that E l i o t i s moving from the position stated i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent" that "Poetry i s an extinction of personality," to the comment made some 20 years . later regarding the introductory poem to Yeats's Responsibilities: . . .the naming of his age i n the poem i s significant. More than half a lifetime to arrive at this freedom of speech. It i s a triumph. (On Poetry and Poets, p. 300) These veiled, but public, references to himself represent a tentative attempt at personal expression, and i s part of a gradual development of the freedom to be personal i n his poetry without being "confessional." Again i n the essay on Yeats E l i o t says that the mature poet i s one who "out of intense and personal experience, i s able to express a general 80 truth; retaining a l l the particularity .of his experience, to make of i t a general symbol." (On Poetry and Poets, p. 299). These poems represent an i n i t i a l step i n that direction. "Gerontion" i s another. E l i o t returned to the monologue i n "Gerontion," but the formalism and the impersonality of character he learned from the quatrain separates "Gerontion" from the earlier monologues. In "Gerontion" the centre of interest returns to the consciousness of the individual narrator, but there i s a relative shift i n emphasis away from the process of the consciousness i n reverie toward the objects of perception. Gerontion, although s t i l l a "personality" i s not so exclusively concerned with his own personality as i s , say, Prufrock. This may have something to do with the age of the narrator, for as an old man his condition i s 7; more static than is Prufrock's. As a result, he is more concerned with his past, both personal and racial, than any of the earlier narrators are. In Gerontion's reverie there i s an overwhelming sense that everything i s settled, f i n a l . Unlike Prufrock, to whom there i s always the sense of impending action, or at least the po s s i b i l i t y of action, Gerontion begins his monologue with a review of his past which suggests irrevocable loss of his "moment of greatness1.":' I was neither at the hot gates Nor fought i n the warm rain Nor knee deep i n the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass, Bitten by f l i e s , fought. My house i s a decayed house. We catch Prufrock as i f i n the process of his experience (though only imagined), experiencing, i n fact, largely i n the present tense. Prufrock 81 i s presently missing h i s experience; the poem begins with the injunction: "Let us.go." Gerontion, on the other hand, begins by r e f l e c t i n g on the already missed experience. His house i s a "decayed" house, Prufrock's i s decaying. Thus, i n "Gerontion" there i s a sense of the irrevocable pastness of the past, even though t h i s past s t i l l lingers i n h i s memory. I t cannot be recovered, only remembered. The pattern of the past determines the pattern of the present, for Gerontion, and thus he sees his past as binding. For him h i s t o r y i s servitude, not freedom. I t i s i n part because of the s t a t i c nature of Gerontion's conception of himself that h i s t o r y , both personal and r a c i a l , i s an important outside forces for him. His own past i s to him a f i n a l , objective thing. I t i s defined i n terms of what he did not do and what he has l o s t ; i t i s i n these terms that h i s own h i s t o r y i s so f i n a l . The p o s s i b i l i t y of regaining, or even redeeming, the past i s hardly considered, and i s consequently rejected out of hand. Likewise the "cunning passages and contrived corridors" of h i s t o r y , and the loss of power to meet sensually with God or man (or woman), represent merely an extension of t h i s sense of f i n a l i t y . History i n "Gerontion" i s a f a c t ; i t i s a fact both because i t i s irredeemable to Gerontion, and because i t so thoroughly defines him. I t has become to Gerontion a symbol of h i s personality; he thinks he i s what he has done (or f a i l e d to do). A l l he can do i s think about i t : thus the loss of a l l sensual reactions and ab i l i t i e s ? . •:<* Because-henhas t r i e d to bury h i s personality with his past, he has become a " d u l l head among windy spaces;" h i s thoughts (and the emphasis upon "thought" i s 82 prominent in the poem) are "thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season." Unlike Prufrock, who never rejects the possibility of both thought and sensation, Gerontion has lost his passion. He says of himself: I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch: and later These with a thousand small deliberations Protract the profit of their chilled delirium Excite the membrane, when the sense has cooled. There is also a suggestion that Gerontion's dryness is not only personal; he is a dull head among "windy spaces" and a dry brain in a "dry season," which implicates also the age. In this respect the poem is "about" a general dissociation of sensibility, a separation of thought and emotion. Because Gerontion is no longer in the midst of his l i f e , he can not as easily rationalize a l l of his failings away as the early narrators try to do. Since the memory of his past is a l l that remains for him, and he cannot look to a promising future, he looks on his past as concrete and real; he takes his l i f e and history more seriously than many of the early narrators. Instead of "I have known them a l l already" Gerontion thinks about his past with real moral seriousness: I that was near your heart was removed therefrom To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition. In short, Gerontion is more ready to think in terms of external facts, and the chief of these facts are the past and religion. Gerontion sees what the others hadn't, that to come to terms with oneself, one also has to come to terms with men and God, and to do that, one has to acknowledge 83 and take seriously t h e i r independent existence. Man's past and hi s r e l i g i o u s f e e l i n g are seen as " f a c t s " in'Gerontion" i n the same way as they are i n "Burbank" and "Mr. E l i o t ' s Sunday Morning Service." However, t h i s knowledge i s gained at great cost, the loss of sensual capacity. Like the persona of Ash Wednesday Gerontion begins his monologue rejecting his own sensuality, and by the middle of the poem he i s l i m i t e d to merely i n t e l l e c t u a l responses. In one central passage the injunction to "think" occurs f i v e times i n 18 l i n e s . In thi s sense Gerontion might be said to be "depersonalized" but i f so i t i s f a l s e and unsatisfactory impersonality,, arising.from his own abstraction of himself. I t comes from a d i v i s i o n between the sensual s e l f and the mental s e l f that i s i m p l i c i t i n the r e j e c t i o n of the l o s t sensual powers. Thus, i t i s rather a fragmentation of the personality than an o b j e c t i f i c a t i o n , or un i v e r s a l i z a t i o n of i t . As the poem progresses, Gerontion moves from sensual to purely mental poses. The f i r s t 28 li n e s depict ( i n sensual terms) the loss of a sensual capacity that was actu a l l y never used, but i s nevertheless rejected. I was neither at the hot gates Nor fought i n the warm r a i n . . . Even the present condition of Gerontion i s represented i n sensual terms: My house i s a decayed house, And the Jew squats on the window s i l l , the owner, Spawned i n some estaminet of Antwerp, B l i s t e r e d i n Brussels, patched and peeled i n London. And he s i t s l i s t e n i n g to the goat (lust?) coughing i n a f i e l d , while an old woman sneezes about her work i n the kitchen. 84 There i s a sense here, however, of the narrator's disgust at t h i s sensually apprehended surrounding. The sensual terms he used to describe the setting are connotatively pejorative:. the landlord was "spawned," and he "squats" on the s i l l ; both he and h i s house are " b l i s t e r e d " and "patched and peeled." This disgust i s made e x p l i c i t as Gerontion's attention s h i f t s from the house to the tenants who are seeking i n t h e i r perverted ways a "sign." Sensuality rto ;Gerontion has become^s^icoiGOTptuSMtrrL even the r e l i g i o u s images are sensual and uni n v i t i n g : In the juvescence of the year Came Christ the t i g e r In depraved May, dogwood and chestnut, flowering judas, To be eaten, to be divided, to be drunk. A l l t h i s as the tenants of the house continue to pervert the sensual apprehension of things; "communion" i s taken, by Mr S i l v e r o With caressing hands, at Limoges Who walked a l l night i n the next room; By Hakagawa, bowing among the T i t i a n s ; By Madame de Tornquist, i n the dark room Sh i f t i n g candles; Fraulein von Kulp Who turned i n the h a l l , one hand on the door. However, Gerontion's disgust with the sensual i s c l e a r l y tempered by his regret at having l o s t the c a p a b i l i t y himself, and several times he interrupts a sensually phrased description to lament h i s own dryness. He f i r s t describes himself as, an o l d man, A d u l l head among windy spaces. 85 He i s only head, having rejected passion, sensual capacity. And so he i only disgusted by i t , seeing i t only i n i t s perverted state. A l l that surrounds him i s perverted sensuality; he c a l l s i t "windy spaces," that surrounds his " d u l l head" and as the poem progresses the wind i t s e l f becomes more active, seems to act more d i r e c t l y upon Gerontion: Vacant shuttles Weave the wind. I have no ghosts, An o l d man i n a draughty house Under a windy knob.8 Gerontion i s a dry head that translates what passion he sees about him into winds and draughts, having rejected not only the perversions of the tenants but the f i g h t i n g at the hot gates and the coming of "Christ the t i g e r . " Hence, the next part of the poem begins with Gerontion's attempt to translate a l l of his experience into pure knowledge. He turns to history as i t can be perceived conceptually: After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors And issues, . . . [ i t a l i c s mine] But history cannot be made to speak only conceptually to the dry brain, and i n spite of the emphasis upon knowledge and the repeated reminder to "think now," Gerontion continually s l i p s back into history's sensual lessons and confusions. History becomes as a woman, to be apprehended wholly or not at a l l : She gives when our attention i s distracted And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions That the giving famishes the craving. 86 In spite of his "thinking" Gerontion describes history's lessons sensually: she gives with "supple confusions" that "famish" the Q "craving. In the following l i n e s Gerontion translates t h i s "lesson" from h i s t o r y into terms of h i s own experience. History, he says, Gives too la t e What's not believed i n , or i s s t i l l believed, In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon Into weak hands, what's thought can be dispensed with T i l l the refusal propagates a fear. [ i t a l i c s mine] The d e f i n i t i o n of memory as "reconsidered passion" i s a clear i n d i c a t i o n that Gerontion t r i e s to translate the sensual into the conceptual. And, as w e l l , the reference to the former r e j e c t i o n of the sensual appre-hension i n "what's thought can be dispensed with" contains a suggestion that Gerontion's condition i s not e n t i r e l y due to his age, but i s inherent i n his temperament, a suggestion that reinforces the opening l i n e s of the poem. After the history passage Gerontion attempts to re-establish his mental control over the process: Think Neither fear not courage saves us. Unnatural vices Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues Are forced upon us by our impudent crimes. This i s the most e x p l i c i t r e j e c t i o n on the part of the narrator of the virtues and vi c e s , a l l of which are sensual, he sees surrounding himself. History cannot speak to Gerontion except i n terms of h i s own experience, and his experience leads him back upon himself, forcing him once more to r e j e c t his sensual potential and consequently the sensual i n his past. There i s a suggestion throughout the passage on histor y that somehow 87 history should provide a standard by which to define the self; "she" does not give the answers, but only because these are too l i t t l e or given too late. Gerontion cannot interpret her lesson: i t is not history, but Gerontion himself who is at fault. Thus, the central conflict is not solely the personal conflict between elements of the self, but is also the conflict between the insufficient self and the absolute standard that is unknowable by the insufficient self. But because Gerontion cannot know this absolute he turns away from i t , rejects i t also and turns back to his own experience and observation: These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree. And of course tears are what the dry brain seeks to escape. In desperation Gerontion is driven back upon Christ; The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours. However, the tiger here is not as explicitly Christ as i t was earlier. Without a doubt Christ is suggested, but there is also the suggestion that the tiger means more; that i t represents something more general. This expansion is accounted for partly by the following lines, dealing explicitly with Gerontion's imminent death; Think at last We have not reached conclusion, when I Stiffen in a rented house The tiger is Christ, but i t is also a l l experience of which the brain is afraid, and which the brain tries to conceptualize. And after the springing of the tiger, and the devouring, Gerontion lapses into his accustomed response: 88 Think at last We have not reached conclusion . . . The "we" suggests not so much a duality of personality as i t did in Prufrock as a sort of editorial "we," an intellectual depersonalization, that prefigures the final lines of the poem: Tenants of the house, Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season. Before he concludes, Gerontion does make a final effort at intellectual honesty, but i t is so couched in Gerontion's habitual terms of escape, that i t suggests something else! Think at lasf I have not made this show purposelessly And i t is not by any concitation Of the backward devils. In the literal sense Gerontion here dissociates himself from the kind of purposeless and perverse sensuality he has earlier described, and he continues in a way that would confirm this suggestion: I would meet you upon this honestly. But the terms in which this occurs suggests only a kind of rhetoric, different from what I have called Prufrock's typically "sensual rhetoric," but s t i l l a rhetoric that suggests that, like Prufrock, Gerontion "sees himself" in a dramatic light. And further, i t suggests that there is a kind of subterranean knowledge of where this "show" should take him, what pose he is acquiring. Prufrock's goal is escape in the commerce of men's affairs. Gerontion's is his "honesty." But his"honesty" is a kind of escape as well, for i t rejects the emotional, sensual response. In fact the next stanza LaproAjdidesx a suggestion that the narrator will 89 meet "you" (presumably Christ, but possibly a person for whom a l l passion is spent) "honestly," but on his own terms: conceptually, not wholly or totally. I would meet you upon this honestly. I that was near your heart was removed therefrom To lose beauty in terror, terror in inquisition. I have lost my passion: why should I need to keep i t Since what is kept must be adulterated? I have lost my sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch: How should I use them for your closer contact? The six lines of reservation deprives the affirmation in the fir s t line of much of its force. This does not suggest that Gerontion's terror and inquisition go for nothing, that he has made the show without purpose. There is real terror in Gerontion's predicament, and the tone of the poem is generally sympathetic. But there is nothing especially admirable in his inability to react wholly, and Eliot makes i t clear that i t is Gerontion's personal failure that results in the inability to achieve "closer contact" with either "history" or Christ. These remain inviolable external standards; and i t is in these that this poem differs chiefly from "Prufrock" and the other early monologues. The nature of Gerontion's failure is that Gerontion is s t i l l a "personality" in spite of the attempts he makes to abstract himself. His rejection of his sensual part is not real impersonality on any vital and valid level. And hence he is forced back upon his partial self as the poem concludes. Specifically he is faced with the contemplation of the loss of sensual capacity with which the poem begins: 90 These with a thousand small deliberations Protract the p r o f i t of t h e i r c h i l l e d delirium, Excite the membrane when the sense has cooled, With pungent sauces, multiply v a r i e t y In a wilderness of mirrors. F i n a l l y the inevitable r e s u l t of the "small deliberations" i s the contem-p l a t i o n of death. But even here he cannot escape the sensual apprehension. The i r o n i c suggestion i s that the spider should suspend i t s operations, that the sensual world around him should be whirled o f f "beyond the c i r c u i t of the shuddering Bear/ In fractured atoms:" Sensually t h i s would seem the appropriate response, but of course, the mind knows i t i s not. Even death i s made cerebral and consequently empty--of no consequence. Gerontion has been driven by the winds into his sleepy corner. Gerontion i s one of E l i o t ' s Hollow Men; h i s hollowness comes from h i s e f f o r t s to abstract himself with the consequent r e j e c t i o n of emotional or sensual experience. From t h i s r e j e c t i o n arises his i n a b i l i t y to come to terms with experience and by extension with things outside of himself, p a r t i c u l a r l y his t r a d i t i o n , h i s t o r i c a l and r e l i g i o u s . As a r e s u l t Gerontion finds that, Between the conception And the creation Between the emotion And the response F a l l s the shadow, the shadow of conceptualizing a l l things. Gerontion i s not t r u l y "impersonal;" rather he i s a fragmented personality. As we see i n Ash Wednesday (which p a r a l l e l s t h i s theme from "Gerontion"^ the t r u l y 91 impersonal response i s one which comes only after a "unification" of the whole human being. Only then does the individual come to terms with the larger forces that surround him. Gerontion's brand of impersonality i s therefore a dead end; i t i s a false attempt that ends i n false conclusions which are not conclusions at a l l , but rather the willelessness of "an old man driven by the Trades/ To a sleepy corner." "Gerontion" for this reason occupies an interesting position i n Eliot's developing treatment of the personality. In one sense he i s a failure because his experience i s discontinuous; the conceptual and the physical are separate. Unlike the narrator of Ash Wednesday (who is also an old man troubled by the loss of sensual power), Gerontion rejects only the part of himself that he feels most keenly lost. The narrator of Ash Wednesday rejects also his "thinking." He renounces the "blessed face" and the "voice;" he also goes on to pray that I may forget These matters that with myself I too much discuss Too much explain. The predicament i s generally the same, but i n Ash Wednesday the persona turns away from both the sensual and the intellectual; and although negative this i s the beginning of a kind of reunification of the two parts. Thus, i t would seem that "Gerontion" represents an important development. Gerontion's failure as a character comes clearly from within,himself, and there i s consequently some suggestion (although i t is slight and our recognition of i t is undoubtedly helped by our 92 knowledge of later poems) of a possible means of salvation. The terms themselves are introduced in "Gerontion," and in the quatrain poems; these poems represent an important turning that is to lead to the use of myth in The Waste Land and later to the non-human historical and religious absolutes that inform Ash Wednesday and the Four Quartets. There exists in these poems the embryo of the attitude that, when developed, will help to account for the shift from the assertion in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" that, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates; and the later account of the same relationship: The [mature] impersonality is that of the poet who, out of intense and personal experience, is able to express a general truth.H The later statement involves no division within the man; but i t depends upon a separation between personal experience and absolute values; i t also accounts for the use of personal history in the Quartets. 93 CHAPTER 3 FOOTNOTES The Invisible Poet, p. 30. Although Kenner makes the point with reference to "Preludes" i t i s c l e a r l y appropriate on a wider scale. 2 While i t i s d i f f i c u l t to make many meaningful generalizations about a group of poems as varied as the seven quatrain poems published i n Poems of 1920, i t i s useful to t a l k about what E l i o t seems to have been trying to do with the form i t s e l f , and i t i s f o r t h i s purpose and with the l i m i t a t i o n s implied by i t that I am grouping them for a common analysis. 3 Most of these e a r l i e r poems were omitted (by E l i o t ) from h i s Selected. Poems', a l l of the quatrain poems were included. 4 M i l t o n , of course, describes Adam as "Godlike erect." ^ I t i s interesting to note that T. E. Hulme singled out Ruskin as one romantic who was aware of the central d i s t i n c t i o n between the f i n i t e and the i n f i n i t e , but who lacked the "metaphysical background which would enable him to state d e f i n i t e l y what he meantV" (Speculations, p. 139). Hulme also mentions evolution and decline i n a way which i s relevant to E l i o t ' s poem: This view [ i . e . of o r i g i n a l sin] was a l i t t l e shaken at the time of Darwin. You remember his p a r t i c u l a r hypothesis, that new species came into existence by the cumulative e f f e c t of small v a r i a t i o n s - - t h i s seems to admit the p o s s i b i l i t y of future progress. But at the present day the contrary hypothesis makes headway i n the shape of De Vrie's mutation theory, that each new species comes into existence, not gradually by the accumulation of small steps, but suddenly i n a jump, a kind of sport, and that once i n existence i t remains absolutely fix e d . (Speculations, pp. 116-117) Origen held that since the son was a copy of the father he was necessarily imperfect--a Platonic doctrine suitably humanistic i n i t s implications. 7 The relationship between age and s t a s i s i s a theme that i s strong i n E l i o t ' s poetry, and i n "A Song for Simeon" and Ash Wednesday i t i s f i n a l l y and p a i n f u l l y purged. 94 0 This development also looks ahead to the f i n a l l i n e s i n which not only Gerontion, but a l l the tenants have become "vacant shuttles" that weave i n the wind: De Bailhache, fresca, Mrs.•Caramel, whirled Beyond the c i r c u i t of the shuddering Bear In fractured atoms. Gull against the wind, i n the windy straights And an o l d man driven by the Trades To a sleepy corner. q See E l i o t ' s comment i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent": Shakespeare acquired more essential history from Plutarch than most men could from the whole B r i t i s h Museum. Essential h i s t o r y i s what Gerontion lacks. Many of these themes of s t e r i l i t y come up again i n the l a t e r poems, of course, and the development i n the ways E l i o t treats d i f f e r e n t themes at d i f f e r e n t periods i n his l i f e i s one of the surest ways we have to trace his own attitudes and consequently to judge how his changing attitudes a f f e c t his poetry. On Poetry and Poets, p. 299. CHAPTER 4 AND EACH CONFIRMS A PRISON: IMPERSONALITY AS ANONYMITY. E l i o t ' s dramatic sense controls the poetry before The Waste Land; with i t E l i o t explores dramatic situations and i n d i v i d u a l attitudes and responses with the kind of irony he describes i n "'Rhetoric' and Poetic Drama." Even the l y r i c poems, as Robert Langbaum points out,''' are dramatic i n depicting moods and dramatic situations. A f t e r "Gerontion," however, E l i o t stopped using the t r a d i t i o n a l form of the dramatic monologue (except of course for two A r i e l poems and Coriolan), but the monologue's dramatic voice continues to l i e behind a l l the major poetry. Beginning with The Waste Land E l i o t manipulates and a l t e r s the dramatic monologue i n a way that expands i t s p o s s i b i l i t i e s while retaining the essential dramatic q u a l i t y that informs i t . The r e s u l t i s to achieve a poetry that at once includes the personal world and yet points to a more absolute and universal one. In The Waste Land t h i s e f f e c t i s achieved through the narrator, who provides a constant and d e f i n i t e voice but who fades into the back-ground, becoming l i k e the anonymous- voice that Kenner describes i n h i s analysis of "Prufrock." Consequently, there i s a s h i f t i n emphasis from the personality of the narrator toward the objects he sees. 96 Because the narrator is a passive observer, he directs our attention to objects existing outside his own mind. The method of the poem does not depend as heavily upon the mind which remembers as upon the facts remembered. In this sense the narrator of The Waste Land is less "personal" than any of the earlier narrators, and this of course makes the poem itself less personal--less concerned with a personality. However, while this is clearly the case, i t would be wrong to suggest that either the poem or its narrator is wholly or absolutely impersonal. The narrator is not only a constant and definable voice; he also possesses a consciousness, a point of view which not only colours the entire tone of the poem, but also undergoes an important change in the progression of the poem. Analysis of this might well begin with one of the hints Eliot has given concerning the nature of the narrator and the characters of the poem. In what is perhaps the most often quoted "note" to The Waste Land Eliot remarks: Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a "character," is yet the most important personage in the poem, uniting a l l the rest. Just as the one-eyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so a l l the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias. What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem. (Collected Poems, p. 82) There are two important points to be made in regard to this note, points which have important bearing upon the poem. First is the statement that "What Tiresias sees, in fact, is the substance of the poem." 97 In the poem itself, when Tiresias f i r s t appears by name, he is introduced in similar terms, as the perceiver of the action: I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives, Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see . . . . What Tiresias sees in this episode is what we see, just as in any monologue what the narrator sees is essentially what we see. Thus, in The Waste Land what the narrator sees becomes our point of view. The suggestion in this note, then, would seem to be that Tiresias is the narrator not just of this segment, but of the entire poem, and this 3 suggestion seems wholly just within the context of the poem itself. The narrator of the poem is obviously the central persona (or "personage") who provides the links between the many fragments and characters, and who is capable of "seeing" a l l of the events and characters with a prophetic, timeless point of view, thus uniting them into a whole vision, and introducing a point of view that is at once objective and participatory. But whether the narrator is seen as Tiresias, or as some nameless, more anonymous persona,^ his function remains the same. That i s , whether the narrator is named or not, his role in the poem is distinctly different from that of the other "characters:" he is not one of them. This is the second point made in the note. Eliot is careful to make the distinction between Tiresias as a "personage" (not a "character") and the rest of the "characters" who are united (and seen) by Tiresias. This is central to the technique of The Waste Land, and separates i t 98 from the earlier monologues. The narrator is not such an active participant in the poem; his reverie does not concern himself--his own consciousness--as exclusively as do the reveries of the narrators from "Prufrock" to "Gerontion." This narrator looks outward toward the events and dramatic responses of the characters. He does not act as the characters act, and consequently is able to maintain an ironic point of view toward the characters that is more distant and universalized than is possible to the active narrator-participant. Yet the poem's irony depends upon Tiresias's participation in the poem although i t is a different kind of participation from the other characters. Cleanth Brooks, in his essay on The Waste Land, describes the particular kind of irony pervading the poem. He observes: The basic method used in The Waste Land may be described as the application of the principle of complexity. The poet works in terms of surface parallelisms which in reality make ironical contrasts, and in terms of surface contrasts which in reality constitute parallelisms.^ Brooks sees the "protagonist" in a dual role shifting between"speculation" and "memory." It is upon this dual role of the narrator that I wish to lay special emphasis. Taking a cue from Brooks's description of the narrator's "reverie in which speculation oh l i f e glides off into memory of an actual conversation . . . and back into speculation again," and from Eliot's explanation that Tiresias sees the substance of the poem, and is, in fact, the "most important personage in the poem," we can conclude that Tiresias's narrative technique includes two separate and distinct points of view. First is objective reportage of what characters 99 say and think. This i s sometimes done simply and d i r e c t l y , as i n l i n e s 5-18 of "The B u r i a l of the Dead," and sometimes more i n d i r e c t l y and ambiguously as i n the second stanza of "The F i r e Sermon':':' A r a t crept s o f t l y through the vegetation Dragging i t s slimy b e l l y on the bank While I was f i s h i n g i n the d u l l canal . . . . Here one i s uncertain i f t h i s i s the narrator speaking d i r e c t l y or reporting the consciousness of one of the characters. But t h i s uncertainty i t s e l f i s part of the function of the narrator, f o r i n the development of the poem hi s description of other characters merges at times into the second point of view, which i s the narrator's response to and judgments of the action he describes. The narrator functions, i n other words, as a "seer" i n both senses of that term: he sees the action and he prophesies upon i t . I t i s i n the central episode of the t y p i s t and the clerk that this merging of roles i s made most e x p l i c i t . T iresias reports f i r s t : I , T i r e s i a s , though b l i n d , throbbing between two l i v e s , Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see . . . [ i t a l i c s mine] and l a t e r : I T i r e s i a s , o l d man with wrinkled dugs Perceived' the scene, and foretold the rest--I too awaited the expected guest. [ i t a l i c s mine] and f i n a l l y : (And I Tiresias have foresuffered a l l Enacted on t h i s same divan or bed; I who have sat by Thebes below the w a l l And walked among the lowest of the dead.) [ i t a l i c s mine] 100 These passages suggest an extremely complex role for the narrator. On the surface, his task is to describe the events and the characters' responses, and then to judge these, but he also "foresuffers," and this implies participation. The opening two stanzas of the poem illustrate this process. The f i r s t stanza "reports" a series of fragments of conversation which represent the limbo in which the characters live, followed by the prophetic response in the second stanza: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, . . . The distinction between the two points of view here appears clearly: there is reportage and there is the judgment; and they are made separately. Yet even as a reporter, Tiresias somehow becomes involved in the action of the poem, for he not only sees, he "foresuffers." This is because a l l of the action takes place within the consciousness of the narrator, and the development of the poem--especially the development of irony in the poem--depends upon the shifting relationship between the narrator's reportage and his judgment, between his experience and his attempts to give that experience order and meaning. It is this dual role, in fact, that is central to the blending of the personal confession of the earlier monologues with the relative objectivity of the quatrain poems. The quatrain poems, i t has been pointed out, consist 6£. series of incontrovertible facts set side by side; the "meaning" arises from the order in which these facts are placed. There is , i t is assumed, a mind that orders these facts and therefore 101 which possesses the point of view, but i t i s not present as a specified narrator-character. I t i s t o t a l l y impersonal i n t h i s sense. In The Waste Land, too, we f i n d facts placed side by side, only here we know where to f i n d the consciousness that orders the facts and even to whom the experience occurs. The re s u l t i s that the poem retains most of the sense of impersonality or o b j e c t i v i t y found i n the quatrain poems, but i n addition contains that sense of the personal, the immediate, which E l i o t increasingly regarded as important to great poetry. I t w i l l be he l p f u l to introduce an analogy to explain t h i s concept. In t h i s case the analogy comes from a l a t e t o p i c a l poem, "A Note on War Poetry" (1942), which treats e x p l i c i t l y the r e l a t i o n between the in d i v i d u a l experience and "universal" poetry. I w i l l quote the poem i n i t s entirety. Not the expression of c o l l e c t i v e emotion Imperfectly r e f l e c t e d i n the d a i l y papers. Where i s the point at which the merely in d i v i d u a l Explosion breaks In the path of an action merely t y p i c a l To create the universal, originate a symbol Out of the impact? This i s a meeting On which we attend Of forces beyond control by experiment--Of Nature and the S p i r i t . Mostly the in d i v i d u a l Experience i s too large, or too small. Our emotions Are only "incidents" In the e f f o r t to keep day and night together. It seems just possible that a poem might happen To a very young man: but a poem i s not poetry--That i s a l i f e . 102 War is not a l i f e : i t is a situation, One which may neither be ignored or accepted, A problem to be met with ambush and stratagem, Enveloped or scattered. The enduring is not a substitute for the transient, Neither one for the other. But the abstract conception Of private experience at its greatest intensity Becoming universal, which we call "poetry',' May be affirmed in verse. This is a poem about what constitutes poetry; its theme is similar to the central proposition enunciated in the essay on "Yeats:" poetry is the result of "private experience at its greatest intensity" becoming poetry. The analogy I wish to propose is that something like this process actually takes place in The Waste Land itself, not only to Eliot's personal experiencef but also to the experience of the poem's narrator/pers ona. "A Note on War Poetry" addresses itself to the question contained in lines 3-7: Where is the point at which the merely individual Explosion breaks In the path of an action merely typical To create the universal, originate a symbol Out of the impact? The phrasing of this question suggests three types of experience: the "merely individual," the "merely typical"" (which is "the expression of collective emotion"), and the "universal," which we call 'poetry.'" That is, "poetry" is neither "merely individual" nor (more importantly) "merely typical;" i t is the "explosion" that occurs when the individual and the typical, or "collective," become one. The creation of the 103 "universal," includes and transcends the others. The application of this to The Waste Land depends upon Eliot's proposition that there is a difference between the typical action or collective emotion and the universal, "general symbol" which constitutes poetry. The fragments of action and conversation, the situations and events of The Waste Land are in this sense merely typical or collective emotions and events. It is the consciousness of the narrator that not only brings these together to demonstrate their typicality but also, because i t is a private and in a sense personal experience as well, brings to the poem an individual response that makes i t "universal." Tiresias, as narrator, not only reports (and poetry is not merely the "expression of collective emotion"), he "foresuffers," he shares the action. In addition, there exist throughout the poem numerous responses by Tiresias which contribute significantly to the sense of his personal involvement. The double point of view, then, is a meeting of the typical, which exists in what Tiresias sees, and the individual, which exists in what Tiresias feels (or "foresuffers"). The narrator in The Waste Land is as surely involved in the action of the poem as are the "characters," although he does not act himself, literally. Indeed, in a significant portion of the poem i t is Tiresias rather than the characters who feels the action with any intensity. Tiresias's role as narrator is twofold: to relate the communal experience, and to "universalize" that experience through his personal experience in i t . The personal experience of the individual characters 1 0 4 i s , as El i o t remarks i n "A Note on War Poetry", either "too large, or too small:" too large i n the sense that the "typical" experience is abstract (rather than general) and too small i n that individually none of the characters can represent what the poem as a whole represents. Tiresias transcends these limitations largely because of his mythical tradition. He can at once "see" everything and feel everything, and s t i l l maintain a sense of objectivity that comes from his being physically outside of the action. It i s important to recognize this dual capability, the capability to remain outside of the action i n one sense while entering into i t i n another. For the central development of the poem involves this fact. E l i o t makes i t very clear i n the f i r s t movement of the poem that the narrator possesses this double vision, and then shows the line between the two points of view beginning to become indistinct as the narrator's personal involvement i n the poem begins to assert i t s e l f . The whole movement of the poem i s , i n fact, one that depends upon the narrator's increasing involvement i n the action (although generally only on a mental level) and his consequent loss of a b i l i t y to separate i n his consciousness the two points of view with which he begins. It i s significant that as the poem progresses two important changes take place i n the nature of the narrator's reportage. F i r s t i s a general shift i n pronoun i n those segments i n which the narrator "speculates," or makes his judgments, a shi f t from the second to the f i r s t person: from "you cannot say" to "what have we given?" Second i s a sense of decreasing certainty about the voice of the speaker. In "The Burial of 105 the Dead" the identity of the voice is always clear, we always know i f the narrator is speaking in his own, or another's voice. As the poem progresses this distinction becomes less certain, the narrator as reporter becomes less distinct from narrator as judge, and the action is increasingly described in a manner that includes the narrator with the rest of the characters. In short, the narrator begins the poem with his roles as objective observer and judge clearly delimited, but during the course of the poem he is drawn into the action. And finally he becomes as one of the lost "characters." The close analysis of the poem, then, for purposes of this investigation must be centred upon the narrator. The poem opens, I have suggested, with a relatively clear distinction made between the two points of view of the narrator. Both points of view are rendered in largely objective terms; that i s , the narrator not only is objective when he is reporting the fragments of conversation but he remains detached from the action when making his comments and judgments upon i t . He remains largely above the action in this f i r s t part of the poem. Both the fragments of the conversation and the narrator's responses are represented as external facts, or images. The first two stanzas clearly introduce us to the narrative method of the poem. Each begins with a statement of judgment by the narrator after which the narration melts into fragments of conversation. In the opening stanza the fir s t four lines announce, in the narrator's voice, the theme of sterility and death-in-life: 106 A p r i l i s the c r u e l l e s t month, breeding L i l a c s out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, s t i r r i n g D u l l roots with spring r a i n . This i s c l e a r l y the narrator stating f a c t u a l l y the conditions he observes about him, j u s t as l i n e s 8-18 are c l e a r l y fragments of conversation spoken by the "characters," overheard, as i t were, and reported by the narrator: Summer surprised us, coming over the Starribergersee With a shower of r a i n ; we stopped i n the colonnade, And went on i n the sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour . . . . These "images" brought together and played against one another form the content of t h i s section of the poem, buil d i n g up a kind of t y p i c a l representation of the condition of the characters of The Waste Land by a process of juxtaposition of judgment and example. But i t i s never quite t h i s simple, since even here i t i s occasionally d i f f i c u l t to separate these two points of view. For example, the f i r s t four l i n e s of the opening stanza are c l e a r l y spoken i n the narrator's own voice, and l i n e s 8-18 i n the voices of various actors, or characters. But the three l i n e s which connect these two segments are i n d i s t i n c t , possessing c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of both the narrator's and the characters' voices: Winter kept us warm, covering Earth with f o r g e t f u l snow, feeding A l i t t l e l i f e with dried tubers. To begin with, the l i n e a t i o n , the continuing device of ending l i n e s with the p a r t i c i p l e which s y n t a c t i c a l l y belongs with the following l i n e s , 107 suggests a close continuity. In addition, the sense that the speaker understands the condition of which he speaks is almost without exception present only when the narrator is speaking in his own voice. A l l this suggests that this is the narrator speaking in his own voice, directly. Yet there is a sense in which these lines seem to be rather a part of the following fragments than an extension of the narrator's own statement. The presence of the fi r s t person pronoun--"Winter kept us warm"--especially, with its apparent parallel with "Summer surprised us," is typical of the bits of conversation, not of the narrator's voice. This uncertainty is resolved by the narrator himself, who is at once observer and participant. The two roles are brought together by the fact that the action takes place within his consciousness; he "foreknows" and "foresuffers" the action. The various characters are "united," Eliot says, in the figure of Tiresias because they exist in his conscious-ness, in a way that is not altogether different from the women in Prufrock's memory. The transition, then, from the narrator speaking in his own voice to the narrator speaking in the voices of the various characters is made by that process of association which marks a l l of the monologues; hence the two poses assumed by the narrator tend to blend in his own consciousness. This is also true of the second stanza, which begins again with an even more apparent judgment than does the fi r s t stanza. Here is emphasized the distance between the fi r s t person of the narrator and the second person of the characters (and perhaps of the reader) to whom he addresses himself. 108 Thus he begins his address to the characters: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images. And presently introduces explicitly his own voice with, And I will show you something different from either Your shadow at morning striding behind you Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; [italics mine]-thus making a clear distinction between himself and his audience. But again the distinction fades when at the conclusion of this stanza there is another fragment of conversation between the hyacinth g i r l and her lover. The girl's voice is clearly set off, but the man's response is not. On the surface this response would appear to be made by one of the "characters," but closer inspection indicates that the narrator's own voice also is audible; again there is the sense that the reply is tempered by the narrator's knowledge of the symptoms of sterility: I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light, the silence. The progression present in these two f i r s t sections is important for two reasons. First i t establishes the distinction between the narrator's private, personal voice--the voice of the prophet--and,his public voice--the voice of the reporter; and second because i t prefigures the movement of the poem as a whole by permitting these two poses to merge. And how they merge is itself important. The distinction between the two roles--in fact between the narrator and the characters--is most distinct when the narrator is able to dwell upon observation and judgment 109 of the i l l s which surround him, and particularly to dwell upon these in general and abstract terms. Thus, the narrator is most distinct and separated when he is acting the role of Ezekiel: Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, or (Come in under the shadow of this red rock), And I will show you . . . But when the particular and specifie action rar*i=ses, the narrator, (whether through sympathy or fear is not immediately clear at this point) becomes less distinct as a separate voice; he is drawn into the action. This pattern is important to recognize in these early stanzas for i t plays an increasingly important part in the development of the poem, and gives to the poem a sense of individual experience. Thus, these early stanzas are important not only because they introduce the theme and central symbols of the poem, but perhaps even more because they establish this dual function of the narrator, of the voice of the poem, and because they foreshadow the eventual breaking down of the distinction between the two voices and the resulting confusion with which the poem concludes. This confusion is made explicit in the final two stanzas of "The Burial of the Dead." The f i r s t of these is devoted entirely to a representation of "Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante," a character who is well-suited to represent the spiritual sterility of The Waste Land. She is another of Eliot's "sign-seekers." It has been suggested that Madame Sosostris's subject in this episode is the narrator himself, the protagonist. Whether i t is or not is perhaps a moot point; certainly 110 Cleanth Brooks argues convincingly that the fortune told is that of the "protagonist."'' But i t is also, abstracted, the fortune of any character of The Waste Land. More significantly this episode is reported sdjmply and objectively, with a sense of irony that is not present in the stanzas surrounding i t . This indicates that the point of view in this stanza is that of the narrator as the objective reporter. The pose implies a kind of aloofness consistent with that implicit in the opening of the poem. The narrator here stands apart and views the folly, the ignorance and the sterility of those whom he observes. This stanza of "reportage" is followed by a stanza that begins with a lament for the fallen, "Unreal City," with the narrator shifting into his role as commentator. The judgment is explicit; the characters are living a death. And the allusion to Dante--I had not thought death had undone so many. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,--places the narrator squarely in a tradition of moral judgment, describing this modern limbo. However, during the course of this commentary the narrator is quite unwittingly drawn into the action, in a way similar to that which we have, seen in the earlier monologues. That i t is the narrator rather than one of the other characters who accosts Stetson is attested to both by the lack of transition from the preceding lines and by the suggestion of timelessness in the line, You who were with me in the ships at Mylae! This, of course, is appropriate only to Tiresias. I l l There are two aspects of the speech to Stetson which require some emphasis. In the f i r s t place, t h i s i s the f i r s t time i n the poem that the narrator e x p l i c i t l y enters the poem as an actor. One may speculate about the extent to which he i s involved i n e a r l i e r episodes--for example, whether he i s i n f a c t the c l i e n t of Madame Sosostris--, but here there i s no question. The narrator, i n the course of h i s condemnatory description of the "Unreal City",- eomesCaSrSss- Stetson, an o l d acquaintance; and th i s unexpected meeting destroys f o r a moment the pose which the narrator has established, a pose which i s marked by i t s detach-ment from the action and by i t s superior position. As a r e s u l t the narrator i s thrown into a state of confusion, which comes from the sudden evaporation of the distance that has separated him from the other characters. In addition, this confrontation represents the f i r s t t:Lme i n the poem that the narrator's attention has been forced to s h i f t from h i s description and judgment of the conditions of s t e r i l i t y and death that surround him to the search f o r some sort of redemption from this condition. Again, one may speculate about various i r o n i c suggestions concerning redemption i n e a r l i e r stanzas, and again, the Madame Sosostris episode comes to mind; her prophecies do contain a sort of i r o n i c h i n t , which she ce r t a i n l y does not intend, of redemption. But p r i m a r i l y - - e x p l i c i t l y - - h e r fortune t e l l i n g i s e s s e n t i a l l y another example of the s t e r i l i t y and perversion i n The Waste Land. But there i s no mistaking the intent of the corpse buried i n the garden, at least i n the general sense. I t c l e a r l y 112 has to do with an attempted salvation. The p a r a l l e l s with the numerous myths about the r i s e n saviour are enough to confirm t h i s , and the f a m i l i a r cycle of death and rebirth--"unless a seed f a l l and die . . ."--gives further evidence. Whether the narrator's confusion arises from h i s suddenly being drawn into the action, or from the sudden introduction of the theme of redemption, or whether there i s some relationship between these two, i s not made clear at t h i s point. But t h i s episode does prepare us f o r the repeated occurrence of t h i s reaction i n the narrator. As the poem develops these two reactions occur simultaneously, as the theme of redemption i s introduced the narrator becomes involved i n the action, and as a r e s u l t h i s tone becomes increasingly h y s t e r i c a l . Thus, the movement of "The B u r i a l of the Dead" prefigures i n miniature the movement of The Waste Land i n t o t a l . The narrator begins as observer and judge, reporter and prophet. As long as he continues to describe and judge the condition of The Waste Land there appears to be no d i f f i c u l t y i n his maintaining these two separate roles . Consequently he observes--Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, A crowd flowed over London Bridge, --and he makes his judgment--so many, I had not thought death had undone so many. However>he finds himself unwittingly drawn into the action, becoming something of an active participant. And t h i s coincides with the sudden s h i f t from the analysis of the condition to the investigation of a means 113 of salvation. The consistency with which this happens in the poem suggests that there may be a causal relationship between the introduction of the means to salvation and the involvement and consequent confusion within the voice of the narrator himself. Thus, in this stanza, the narrator meets Stetson, an old acquaintance, who by chance has performed a ritual suggesting salvation, and the narrator is immediately thrown into a sense of confusion; his speech becomes garbled, even nonsensical, its tone one of panic and fear and desperation. Then, in a sudden turn, he collects his wits in a defensive pose, .resuming, his judgmental pose: "You! hypocrite lecture!" The pattern of development is similar to that which informs the early monologues; i t most clearly resembles the central stanza of "Prufrock" in which Prufrock is unwittingly drawn into his own moral consciousness. "The Burial of the Dead" concludes with the narrator's attempt to recover his impersonality and objectivity. "A Game of Chess" continues this development. This section of the poem is largely one of reportage and description, containing two "typical" examples of the dryness of The Waste Land, one from the upper and one from the lower classes. Thus is established a pattern that controls the overall development of the poem. For just as within each section the narrator's pose shifts from observer to participant, so within the poem as a whole we find the same kind of movement. In section I we observe the narrator being drawn increasingly into the action until he loses control of i t . In the second section he 114 maintains, with great e f f o r t , an objective pose. In the t h i r d section he i s again drawn into the action, and th i s i s followed by the short, fourth section which again i s comparatively objective. F i n a l l y , i n the l a s t section his attempt to remain outside of the action i s f u l l y dashed as he concludes with a series of "fragments" of his own that p a r a l l e l the fragments of the "characters" i n the opening stanza of "The Bu r i a l of the Dead." In addition, we f i n d that i n the second and fourth--the more objective--stanzas, the narrator's attention i s c h i e f l y placed upon analysis of his world's i l l s . And i n the f i r s t , t h i r d , and f i f t h sections his attention s h i f t s to the theme of redemption, whether i t be the buried corpse, the "Confessions" of Augustine and the burning of the "Fire Sermon" or the three commands of the thunder. "A Game of Chess," of course, opens with the parody of Enobarbus's description of Cleopatra.(Enobarbus i s also the detached observer who fears becoming involved i n an action which he regards as ruinous.) The f i r s t 38 l i n e s are purely descriptive (unless one wishes to argue that the comment upon the rape of Philomel--"And s t i l l she c r i e d , and s t i l l the world pursues"--is an i n t r u s i o n by the narrator's own voice), And even after these 38 l i n e s (which end with the lady's command: " ' I never know what you are thinking. Think.'"),, the response i s not e x p l i c i t l y made by the narrator. This response, i n fact, i s reminiscent of the j anonymous response to the hyacinth g i r l i n the f i r s t section. In both a woman speaks to a male companion, and her speech i s set o f f with quotation marks. And i n both the reply i s made ostensibly by the man 115 addressed. However, because these replies are not so set off, the question of his identity arises. Perhaps i t is the person of the narrator who replies in both cases, and the similarity of reply provides evidence for this supposition. In section one the response i s : I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor Dead, and I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light, the silence. This, I have suggested, implicates the narrator through the knowledge of sterility i t expresses. So with the responses to the lady in the second section. First: I think we are in rat's alley Where dead men lost their bones. And then, in response to the question, "What shall we ever do?" The hot water at ten. And i f i t rains, a closed car at four. And we shall play a game of chess, Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a. knock upon the door. Here is a similar kind of.cynicism, and the cynical mood is like that of the narrator in his role as critic. But more telling is the imagery, which recalls much of the imagery of the f i r s t section: the association of the drowned man--"Those are pearls that were his eyes"--and Shakespeare, the rats, the hollow wind, the death's head figure--""Pressing lidless eyes"--a l l of these are images that continually the consciousness of the narrator throughout the poem, and they suggest that i t is the narrator who g responds to the lady. After the final response to the lady's questioning the narrator drops this episode and begins another, again apparently content merely to 116 describe the event. This results in the monologue relating the sexual sterility of L i l and Albert. But the monologue is interrupted by an external voice in a number of places, chiefly with the refrain: HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME. This is ostensibly spoken by the landlord, impatient to close his pub. However, the obvious appropriateness of the line to the central theme of sterility and redemption, along with the manner in which the narrator's role has been developed to this point in the poem,suggests that once again the consciousness of the narrator intrudes into the action of the poem. There are two implications conveyed by this refrain. First is the suggestion that i t is time for repentance and redemption. But also there is the suggestion that since the ordeal of complete collapse is imminent, this ordeal should be concluded as quickly as possible. The f i r s t of these seems consistent with the role of the narrator as seer; the second with the role of the narrator as participant. And the two come together in the final line of this section: Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. These "good nights" are clearly distinguished from the "goodnights" of the tipsy woman speaker, and can belong only to the voice of the narrator. There is a complex irony present in this closing line; playing the popular song against Ophelia's mad speech, the woman's "goodnight" against the narrator's, the inappropriate adjective, "sweet'1- a l l of these contribute toward establishing a tone of judgment, of moral 117 superiority, yet at the same time, of weary despair. And the progression in this section from Enobarbus to Ophelia parallels, i f on a more subtle level, the progression from an objective sanity to personal confusion. "The Fire Sermon" returns to the method of juxtaposing description and judgment that typifies "The Burial of the Dead." But the inclusion of the fragments and images from the preceding sections renders i t more complex. Consequently the associative process in the consciousness of the narrator appears more clearly. In the opening lines, for example, the narrator begins with a description of the scene: The river's tent is broken; the last fingers of leaf Clutch and sink into the wet bank. The wind Crosses the brown land, unheard. The nymphs are departed. The leaves which "clutch" the bank recall lines 19-20: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish? The wind that "Crosses the brown land, unheard," suggests: "What is the wind doing?" Nothing again nothing. The narrator is presumably observing the scene and describing i t , but incorporated into this description are the images that he holds in his mind from his experiences of previous episodes in the poem, and, of course, by this time he has accumulated a complex structure of images to draw upon. Since Eliot tells us that "what Tiresias i>zu, in fact, is the substance of the poem," then the final set of images that constitutes the poem are those images that have pressed themselves upon 118 his consciousness. In t h i s l i g h t two b r i e f passages, one near the beginning of the poem and one at the end, assume added importance. The f i r s t i s 11. 20-22: Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images. I have suggested that the word "images" refers s p e c i f i c a l l y to those images that occur i n the opening stanza, but could be extended to mean a l l , o f the images which constitute the poem. The implication i s that wi t h i n the poem only the narrator sees the relationship between the broken images, thus the meaning i n them. But at the end of the poem the narrator again refers to these "broken images," but a di f f e r e n t term i s used to describe them, a term that a l t e r s our attitude toward the experience not only of the characters i n The Waste Land, but of the narrator himself as he says: These fragments I have shored against my ruins. A c t u a l l y there are two important departures from the description of the images at the beginning of the poem. Besides the s h i f t from the term "broken images" to the term "fragments," which suggests a further break-down, there i s the s h i f t from the "you" i n the f i r s t section to " I " i n the l a s t . The f i r s t passage, i n which the narrator addresses the inhabitants of The Waste Land (perhaps also the reader), c l e a r l y distinguishes him ... from these who know only the broken images, a d i s t i n c t i o n that carries with i t the implication that the narrator does, i n f a c t , know more than broken images. And this passage i s followed by the i n v i t a t i o n 119 to "Come i n under the shadow of t h i s red rock," where there i s a shadow rather than merely broken images; the "shadow at morning s t r i d i n g behind you" and the "Shadow at evening r i s i n g to meet you" appear to be an alternative knowledge which is, to be seen i n opposition to the broken images, and of which the narrator implies he i s i n possession. In the f i n a l passage, however, i t i s the narrator himself who i s i n possession not merely of broken images, but of fragments which he "shores against his ruins." This f i n a l passage r e c a l l s the section of "The F i r e Sermon".which deals with the r i v e r , f o r i n the f i n a l stanza of the poem the narrator begins: I sat upon the shore Fishing, with the a r i d p l a i n behind me, and "The F i r e Sermon" begins also upon a "shore." Consequently we may look f o r other p a r a l l e l s . I t i s , i n f a c t , i n "The F i r e Sermon" that the r e a l deterioration of the narrator's o b j e c t i v i t y i s manifested. Near the end of the f i r s t stanza of "The F i r e Sermon" the narrator, through a kind of association of h i s t o r i c a l f a c t , r e c a l l s Spenser's, "Sweet Thames, run s o f t l y , f o r I speak not loud or long" (which i n i t s e l f could be suggested by "HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME"), which i n turn suggests the l i n e s from Marvell's "Coy Mistress" (which i n t h i s case are altered by the persistent image of the wind): But at my back i n a cold b l a s t I hear . . . And the cold b l a s t (the wind) reminds him of the relationship of the wind with the r a t t l e of bones which he made i n Section I I , 11. 115-120: 120 "The r a t t l e of the bones, and chuckle spread from ear to ear." The r a t t l e of the bones, i n turn, suggests to him the r a t , from "rats a l l e y , " and from this arises the memory of the drowned Phoenician S a i l o r , which i s r e c a l l e d again i n 11. 115-120 of Section I I . F i n a l l y the process of association brings him back to Marvell, who i s altered t h i s time by the sounds of the horns and motors which w i l l begin the progression of s t e r i l e and l u s t f u l sexual a c t i v i t i e s which constitute the remainder of "The F i r e Sermon." A f t e r the b r i e f description of the shady Mr. Eugenides (another merchant) we are introduced to the t y p i s t and her "young man." This passage i s central because i t introduces Tiresias by name and also because, with some help from the notes, i t gives us our clearest understanding of the way the narrator i s able both to observe and to experience a l l action. Tiresias intrudes three times while describing t h i s b r i e f t r y s t . The f i r s t time he announces that he experiences both male and female responses (he "throbs" between two l i v e s ) and also that he sees the action. The second time he reiterates h i s bisexual capacity for experience and announces that he can foretell what w i l l happen. Here we get Tiresias as observer (seeing) and as prophet ( f o r e t e l l i n g ) . But i n the t h i r d i n t r u s i o n these d i s t i n c t i o n s once more break down; Tiresias announces that he also suffers the action, which indicates that he becomes a part of i t . This f a c t , stated here quite straightforwardly (and the note to t h i s passage confirms that "what Tiresias sees, i n f a c t , i s the substance of the poem " ) , i s quite 121 central to the development of the poem. Tiresias not only sees what is going on about him, he suffers i t , and this causes: him to react very often in a personal and immediate way. When he is forced to react personally (as in his meeting with Stetson, etc.). he loses a l l feeling of objectivity. Thus there is always a feeling of intense suffering even when the characters are not capable of suffering. In this episode, for example, neither the young man, who "requires no response," nor the woman, who allows one half-formed thought to pass, are capable of evoking the passionate response we feel here. The suffering, in this episode, as in others throughout the poem, is primarily the suffering of the narrator, Tiresias. It is in Tiresias's consciousness that the association resulting from the young lady's gramophone record brings him back to the recurrent passage from The Tempest with: "This music crept by me upon the waters" and then in his own experience, And along the Strand, up Queen Victoria Street. In his response to the typist and her lover, the narrator avoids the present limbo, turning rather to the memories of music more pleasant than the typist's gramophone produces: 0 City city, I can sometimes hear Beside a public bar in Lower Thames Street, The pleasant whining of a mandoline And a clatter and a chatter from within Where fishmen lounge at noon: where the walls Of Magnus Martyr hold Inexplicable splendour of Ionian white and gold. Magnus Martyr with its visual image of Renaissance glories is contrasted with Saint Mary Woolnoth which keeps the hours "With a dead sound on the 122 f i n a l stroke of nine"; and the fishmen's chatter and pleasant music contrasts with the crowd flowing over London Bridge, half dead, with eyes fixed before their feet. This image of Lower Thames Street produces the memory of a richer experience, i f hot the experience i t s e l f , which contrasts with the meaningless, sexual experience of the typist, and, of course, also brings Tiresias back to the river, and to the song of the Thames daughters. This song i s , i n effect, a chorus for "The Fire Sermon," serving a purpose something like that of the chorus i n the drama. F i r s t , i t sums up the action of "The Fire Sermon:" the f i r s t part of the song recapitulates the modern river; the sweating o i l and tar helps to explain why there are no longer even the empty bottles and cardboard boxes on the shores; the river has been so fouled that i t i s unattractive even for the modern nymphs and their friends, the loitering heirs of City directors. The second part refers us back 9 to the images of the Renaissance (Spenser, Magnus Martyr, etc.) And the f i n a l part parallels Elizabeth's journey down the river, this time bringing the journey e x p l i c i t l y back to the river of the Waste Land and connecting i t with the typist and the river nymphs who have departed with their friends! 0 The contrasts implicit i n the three songs, particularly that between the song of Elizabeth and that of the modern nymph, serve to emphasize the conflict within the consciousness of Tiresias which is the crucial aspect of the typist episode--the conflict that arises from meaningless experience set against the notion of meaning that l i e s somewhere beyond. The absence of meaning i n "The Fire Sermon" i s represented i n sexual terms, and the action 123 without meaning then becomes the action of l u s t (contrasted to the action of l o v e ) v Lust i s only one of the major elements of s t e r i l i t y i n the poem; the fear of death, the fear of f a i t h and of daring are r e a l l y the larger themes to which sexual a c t i v i t y , as w e l l as such things as the charlatan f o r t u n e - t e l l i n g of Madame Sosostris, the f i n e t o i l e t t e of the lady of situations or the pub t a l k of the other woman, are secondary. Lust i s a p a r t i c u l a r l y apt representation, however, f o r i t allows ''The Fi r e Sermon" to culminate i n the paradox that concludes the section. E l i o t has pointed out that the " c o l l o c a t i o n of these two representatives of eastern and western asceticism [ i . e . , Buddha and Augustine], as the culmination of t h i s part of the poem, i s not an accident," and obviously the ascetic nature of both the Confessions and Buddha's " F i r e Sermon" i s necessary to redeem the s t e r i l e l u s t of th i s part of E l i o t ' s poem. Thus, a f t e r the songs of the Thames Daughters, the narrator's association s h i f t s to the opening of Augustine's t h i r d chapter, "To Carthage then I came, where a cauldron of unholy loves sang a l l about mine ears." (One might be reminded by t h i s of the closing l i n e s of book I I : " I wandered, 0 my God, too much astray from thee i n my stay, i n these days of my youth, and I became to my s e l f a waste land"), and to the f i r e sermon--"Burning . . . etc." The association of burning as the burning of l u s t i s apparent, but also present i s the suggestion that must come from the repeated references to Dante's purgatory of the " f i r e ithat r e f i n e s . " For following the burning i n the consciousness of Tiresias 124 i s the additional reference to Augustine, "0 Lord Thou pluckest me out," and then an echo of that l i n e , but s i g n i f i c a n t l y omitting the words "me out:" "0 Lord Thou pluckest," which suggests torture of plucking without the salvation of l i f t i n g out. Then f i n a l l y comes the single word, "burning," which has neither a c a p i t a l l e t t e r to begin i t nor a stop to end i t . Consequently there i s the same sort of irony here that Brooks demonstrates i n the Madame Sosostris passage. That i s , the paradox that might lead to salvation i s one that involves the immersion i n the f i r e . One might look ahead f o r a moment to section IV of " L i t t l e Gidding" for a p a r a l l e l expression (the c hief difference being that i n " L i t t l e Gidding" the paradox i s made complete i n f u l l consciousness of what i t s i g n i f i e s , while i n "The F i r e Sermon" i t remains merely a series of fragments, suggesting a solution perhaps, but not with the f u l l consciousness, or at l e a s t not with the w i l l , to r e a l i z e what i t means). In " L i t t l e Gidding" we f i n d the l i n e s : The Dove descending breaks the a i r With flame of incandescent terror Of which the tongues declare The one discharge from s i n and error. The only hope, or else despair Lies i n the choice of pyre or pyre--To be redeemed from f i r e by f i r e . Who then devised the torment? Love. Love i s the unfamiliar Name Behind the hands that wove The intolerable s h i r t of flame Which human power cannot remove. We only l i v e , only suspire Consumed by either f i r e or f i r e . There i s a sense of awareness present i n these l i n e s from " L i t t l e Gidding" that i s absent from Tiresias's l i n e s . 125 T i r e s i a s has stated the terms of redemption (just as Madame Sosostris did i n part I) but has stated them i n a manner which does not lead to salvation. The close of "The F i r e Sermon" thus prefigures the conclusion of the poem i n which Tiresias i s again made e x p l i c i t l y aware of the terms of redemption but i s capable only of "setting his lands i n order" and of shoring his fragments against his r u i n . The impulse i n his consciousness i s to be plucked out of the burning without enduring the redemptive burning of purgation, the kind of a n n i h i l a t i o n of the s e l f that i s so important a theme i n Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets. In t h i s respect, "The F i r e Sermon" plays a c r u c i a l part i n the development of the whole poem that i s s i m i l a r to the stanza i n Prufrock ending "And i n short I was a f r a i d " or the passage i n which Gerontion reckons his l o s t relationship with C h r i s t the Tiger. I t i s , i n short, the kind of confrontation which most of E l i o t ' s personae begin and then back away from i n fear. (One might r e c o l l e c t T i r e s i a s 1 early prophecy " I w i l l show you fear i n a handful of dust.") What Tiresias suffers i s the recognition of the necessity of purgation, of commitment. But Tiresias allows himself to be involved only to the extent of a sort of vicarious foresuffering, and cannot enter the action wholly enough to be purged of i t . And by extension, the other characters, who are less able and less a l i v e than T i r e s i a s , do not commit themselves to the "awful daring of a moment's surrender." In section IV, "Death by Water," the narrator r e c a l l s the Phoenician s a i l o r again, perhaps prompted by the t r a i l i n g o f f of his reverie at the end of I I I to the single word, "burning." This would follow the theme 126 that has emerged at the end of III, the theme of purgation by immersion. The other side of the paradox of purgation from fire by fire i s , in fact, 11 the concept of redemption from water by water. But as in the fire, purgation is merely annihilation i f i t is not accompanied by a will for redemption. Consequently the reflection of Phlebas the Phoenician's death is as inconclusive as is the meditation on the two prophets, Buddha and Augustine; and the narrator, after recalling Phlebas; can only turn to the audience and attempt a prophecy of his own: Gentile or Jew 0 you who turn the wheel and look to windward, Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and ta l l as you. It should be noted how much less authority (and, in fact, meaning) there is in this prophetic outburst than in the earlier ones, for example: Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, . . . One other aspect of this brief section bears mentioning. In this passage occurs the last use of the second person pronoun to separate the narrator from the audience or from the other characters of the poem. This signifies the final attempt of the narrator to raise himself to an objective position, to extricate himself, as i t were, from the suffering that is a part of his experience in "The Fire Sermon." One is tempted to say that this is the narrator's own effort to "pluck himself out" of degenerative participation in The Waste Land; and perhaps the very brevity of the section suggests the f u t i l i t y of this attempt. For in "What the Thunder Said" the reverie of the narrator (and 1 2 7 reverie i s exactly what i t is) deteriorates into a confused mixture of recollection of previous images and episodes mixed with a fragmented 1 2 formula for redemption. The outstanding feature of the f i r s t half or more of this section i s an apparent random mixture of images from the f i r s t four sections. The torchlight red on sweaty faces, the frosty silence i n the garden, the dry rock and dead mountain a l l r e c a l l the river scenes, the images of winter and of gardens and the st e r i l e rocks of the f i r s t three sections. The "hooded hordes swarming/ Over endless plains, stumbling i n cracked earth/ Ringed by the f l a t horizon only" recalls Madame Sosostris', "I see crowds of people, walking round i n a ring;" the "City over the mountains . . . Jerusalem, Athens, Alexandria/ Vienna, London" i s an echo, and expansion of the "Unreal City;" and the woman who "drew her long hair out tight/ And fiddled whisper music on those strings" i s reminiscent of the Lady of Section II who "under the f i r e l i g h t under the brush, her hair/ Spread out i n f i e r y points/ Glowed into words, then would be savagely s t i l l . " There are, however, two qualities which distinguish the images here from their earlier appearances. The f i r s t i s their unreal, almost surrealistic quality. The "Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit.y" the "Hooded hordes swarming/ Over endless plains," the "bats with baby faces i n the vi o l e t l i g h t " (perhaps a reference to the typist, who comes to her f l a t i n the violet light) are i n fact images of events that are distorted, perhaps by the terror they evoke. They are images which should point to the perilous journey, the reappearance 128 of a crucified God, the message of salvation i n the commands of the thunder. But they do not, because the narrator only sees i n them a kind of mortal fascination which only makes them more unreal and terrifying and makes the wish for water seem a hollow yearning. The main feeling here i s one of disintegration, not salvation, and when the narrator f i n a l l y arrives at the chapel i n the mountains there is the cock's crow, which reminds us of Peter's denial of Christ. There i s even a question, I think, of whether the rain arrives at a l l , for immediately following the lines "Then a damp gust/ Bringing rain" i s a description of an arid landscape which "waited for rain" and received only thunder, and i n the f i n a l stanza the plain i s s t i l l "arid." In addition, there i s ,a s h i f t i n emphasis i n this section from the earlier ones. However much the narrator found himself drawn into the action, into the suffering i n sections I-IV, he maintained at least the formal distinction between himself and the other characters, between " I " and "you." Wherever the pronoun " I " appears i n these sections i t i s either the narrator or i t i s clearly set off, as i n the songs of the Thames4daughters'?.. As late i n the poem as "Death by Water" this distinction i s made, with the narrator addressing his audience as "you who turn the wheel and look to windward," clearly implying the "I"ness of himself. But from the beginning of "What the Thunder Said" one i s struck by the fact that the distinction between "You" and " I " is nearly gone, i s replaced by the less definite distinction between "We" and "p." The narrator has f i n a l l y become, or perhaps has admitted to becoming, one of the participants i n the poem."^ In the f i r s t stanza 129 we find: He who was living is now dead We who were living are now dying. (my italics) And in the following stanza, again: If there were water we should stop and drink Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think. (my italics) In the brief passage recollecting the Journey to Emmaus there is the "I" which is not set off, suggesting that the actor is in fact the narrator. And the responses to the f i r s t two commands of the thunder are in the f i r s t person. The only use of the second person is in the response to the third command, a conditional situation which in the context would not seem to refer to the actual condition of either Tiresias or the auditor, but to a figure who might have found redemption: The boat responded Gaily, to the hand expert with sail and oar The sea was calm, your heart would have responded Gaily, when invited, beating obedient To controlling hands. [Italics mine] The reference here, i t seems to me, is to Christ's calming of the seas, and the implication is that in a living religious context the heart would have responded. But "He who was living is now dead," and there is consequently no response. In the final stanza, of course, the f i r s t person pronoun is resumed, but in a passage that is permeated with personal despair. In addition to the general shift away from the distinction between "you" and "I" roles, there is a specific shift from the plural to the singular as this section progresses. It will have been noted that in 130 the listing of the occurrences of the pronoun in the above paragraph, the general movement was from the inclusive "we" to the exclusive, and consequently personal, "I." In the earlier portions of "What the Thunder Said" Tiresias tends to think in terms of the collective consciousness: "we are now dying," "We should stop and drink." Even as late as the response to the first command of the thunder i t is "we" whom Tiresias speaks of: what have we given? My friend, blood shaking my heart The awful daring of a moment's surrender Which an age of prudence can never retract By this, and this only, we have existed Which is not to be found in our obituaries Or in memories draped by the beneficent spider Or under seal broken by the lean solicitor In our empty rooms. This passage illustrates clearly the kind of combination of personal and collective consciousness which marks Tiresias's role here. Literally, Tiresias is addressing his audience, telling us that we must a l l (including the speaker) dare to live fully and dangerously: "By this, and this only, we have existed." (The theme is again the recurrent image of immersion in the destructive element.) However, the line, "My friend, blood shaking my heart," is an interjection which not only emphasizes the importance of the statement, but also illustrates the profound emotional response i t evokes from the narrator. This kind of emotional response helps to create a sense of emotional energy in the poem, and i t perhaps helps to universalize the poetic response, but i t also points to the final spiritual ambiguity of the narrator who cannot 131 save mankind because he cannot quite save himself. He has the "keys," I have heard the key' Turn i n the door and turn once only We think of the key, each i n his prison Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison; but the keys do not lead to salvation. They only confirm the in d i v i d u a l prison of each man. Thus, the response to the t h i r d command--to practice c o n t r o l , or s e l f - r e s t r a i n t - - i s a conditional response which suggests only what might have been i f the key had been turned, i f the surrender had been made. The f i r s t command i s , i n f a c t , the condition upon which the other two are based i n the development of the poem, and as the recognition of th i s occurs i n the consciousness of T i r e s i a s , the narrator-protagonist, the s h i f t from a c o l l e c t i v e i n q u i s i t i o n to an intensely personal one occurs. Tiresias muses, " I have heard the key turn once only;" speculates that "we think of the key, each [the narrator included, of course, i n the c o l l e c t i v e pronoun] i n his prison/ Thinking of the key, each confirms his prison." Consequently as the mental association progresses (without punctuation) from the supposition of control to the a c t u a l i t y of the present condition, Tiresias ignores the c o l l e c t i v e and thinks only of his personal condition: I sat upon the shore Fishing, with the a r i d p l a i n behind me Shall I at least set my lands i n order? These fragments I have shored against my ruins Why then l i e f i t you. Hieronymo's mad againe. I t i s e s p e c i a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n this context that the quotation from Kyd i s taken from the end of the play, j u s t a f t e r Hieronymo has taken 132 his revenge and just before he cuts out his tongue to prevent his being questioned. This last stanza completes the transition from the collective experience to the deeply personal one, but personal in terms of "A Note on War Poetry": Of private experience at its greatest intensity Becoming universal, which we call "poetry." The phrase "personal experience . . . becoming universal" has a particular significance in the development of this poem, particularly in the development of the figure of Tiresias, who serves at once as the narrator, or persona, and the central personage in the poem. In the early sections, as we have seen, Tiresias serves primarily as an objective narrator, relating the experience of the various characters who inhabit the waste land, and responding chiefly in a mental manner to these characters. This kind of reportage might be called (to use Eliot's phrase) "expression of collective emotion," given poetic form by the directing consciousness of the narrator. But somewhere during the course of the poem--it is impossible to put one's finger on the exact spot, although one can point to important episodes, such as the typist home for tea time--the "merely individual/ Explosion breaks/ In the path of an action merely typical/ To create the universal, originate a symbol." And the nature of this "explosion" rests within the role that Tiresias plays in the poem. That is, as the narrator becomes involved in the action, and consequently as the response becomes emotional as well as mental, and 133 as he sees the action more and more in terms of his own experience, the symbol is created. Just as Prufrock or Gerontion cannot fully comprehend their individual experiences, so is Tiresias incapable of comprehending his. Thus the resigned, "These fragments I have shored against my ruins," transcends the experience of the central character, although i t comes through the experience of that character. In short, i t is the experience of Tiresias that gives The Waste Land its meaning and its poetic form, for the fragments (as opposed to images) that conclude the poem constitute its poetic form and meaning. Tiresias' early role as an "organizer" of the experience of the other characters becomes a role of trying (and failing) to sort out his own involvement in the action of the poem. And just as Tiresias is a remarkably fitting figure to sort out the experience of the other characters, being timeless, and including a l l men and a l l women, so is he a fitting figure to represent the final quandary of The Waste Land. First because of his assumed moral superiority he is a figure admirably suited to represent that sort of solipsistic pride which in a l l of Eliot's work prevents redemption. His being at once in the action and somehow apart from i t suits him to the role. In addition, he is a figure who can conceive of the terms of salvation without being able to participate in i t or to accept the terms. He i s , in short, a figure not unlike either Prufrock or Gerontion, or many of Eliot's protagonists in his incapacity to give "the awful daring of a moment's surrender." But he is superior to these other protagonists in his knowledge and range of experience and mythical associations. Thus, i t seems to me, the greater achievement of The Waste Land over the earlier poems rests largely, even primarily, on 134 the success with which Eliot was able to employ his narrator, the figure of Tiresias, in the poem. However, the achievement of the poem s t i l l takes place within the general framework of the earlier poetry; that i s , the poem depends upon the use of a narrator who serves as a mask for the poet. In this sense, Tiresias is not different in kind from the figures, who narrate the earlier poems. Though far more complex than any earlier poems, The Waste Land operates essentially upon the principle of the dramatic monologue. The role of Tiresias in this poem parallels the role of Prufrock and Gerontion in their poems. It is the experience of Tiresias that forms the substance of the poem and i t is when the experience of Tiresias becomes most intensely personal that the poem reaches its climaxes and consequently becomes most universal. However, two important differences here from the earlier poems should be noted. The fi r s t is the inclusion of a wide range of minor characters within the action of the poem. These serve, f i r s t , to incorporate a wider and consequently more representative range of experience, and second, to give a wider panorama of situations and events to which the narrator can respond and which in fact colour his responses. The women of "Prufrock" and Gerontion's fellow tenants are here expanded into a set of secondary characters who become at times as important as the narrator himself. That i s , within many of the separate episodes Tiresias is not apparently primary; his importance as the primary personage of the poem becomes apparent only in the development of the poem as a whole. 135 A second departure from the earlier poems i s the ambiguity or lack of precise delineation of the narrator. In "Prufrock," "Portrait," "Gerontion" and others, the narrator i s a self that can be defined, i f not i n the same way as most of Browning's personalities, at least as people with relatively clearly defined limitations and tr a i t s of character. Tiresias i s not so, partly because of his mythical associations and partly because of his particular type of role within the poem i t s e l f . E l i o t has chosen to use that group of characteristics associated with the Tiresias myth that emphasize the capability to experience the roles of others, and as a natural result has de-emphasized any strong characteristics of a strong personality that were available. As a consequence, although the personal suffering of Tiresias forms the main impact of the poem, as a "personality" Tiresias i s practically non-existent. "^ Tiresias comes perhaps as close as a persona; can to being one who has personal experiences that have no quality of personality i n them at a l l . He i s , i n effect, a voice without a personality who nevertheless i s subject to personal experiences, personal suffering, and personal despair. To this extent, The Waste Land marks one kind of success i n Eliot's search for an impersonal method i n poetry; that success i s i n creation of a persona with no definable l i m i t s , who possesses a consciousness that comprehends a l l personalities, yet i s distinct from a l l personalities. Tiresias, i n the end, seems to exhaust this line of development, and i n general the movement after The Waste Land i s one back to the use of a persona who, i f not much more clearly defined, has a more limited, more personal, more clearly individual character. In Ash Wednesday and the Four Quartets 1 3 6 the persona is much more like Eliot himself than in any of the other poems. This dual role of the narrator has a further application, one that represents a development from the earlier monologues. As an observer who is never quite fully detached from the action of the other characters, yet never wholly in that action, Tiresias represents a kind of relationship between the individual consciousness and other conscious-nesses. Tiresias?/however^ is not just another consciousness; his mythical, wide-ranging background makes of him a rather more generalized character than a l l the rest. He is representative in the sense that he brings together a l l human consciousness. He is , in other words, a representative of the human level of consciousness, perhaps not really typical, but nevertheless representative of this plane of human association. On the other hand, in his role as the objective judge or prophet he represents the association of human consciousness with the plane of absolute moral and spiritual values. His dual role puts him in the position in which he i s , or might be, capable of connecting the human and the absolute, or eternal. The similarity between this position and the i n i t i a l , central assumption in T. E. Hulme's "Humanism and the Religious Attitude,""^ whether i t is accidental or intentional, is striking. Hulme's thesis is that the central fault of Western Humanism is the failure to distinguish clearly between the organic human plane and the absolute moral plane. Tiresias, as an active participant in the action (whether he is called "character" or "personage"), fails for approximately the same reason. 137 That i s , in every crucial situation he fails to make this distinction because he allows his personality, his own individual responses, to intrude. When he does separate the two planes--as for example in the f i r s t two stanzas of the poem--he does so at the expense of one of them. In other words, the narrator consistently aligns himself with either human activities or moral absolutes, but he is in the end incapable of bringing the two together. This is his central failure as an actor in the poem, a failure that is in many important ways similar to that of the earlier narrators, and that is redeemed in the later poems. The central difference between The Waste Land and the Four Quartets is that the latter poems either point the way towards or achieve the "intersection of time and eternity" (i.e. the human and absolute worlds). As we shall see, a central reason for the difference lies in the personae of the poems, particularly in their abilities to distinguish between that in the human consciousness which is universal and that which is merely personal. Tiresias's central weakness as a character is that he must be either entirely personal or entirely impersonal; he cannot connect the individual with the eternal; thus he finally lacks the will for salvation. This is not to say that The Waste Land fails as a poem. It does not any more than "Prufrock" fails because of the failure of its narrator's personality. Out of Tiresias's personal experience Eliot succeeds in creating something larger than merely the personal experience. We recognize the gap between knowledge of and achievement of salvation and from this gap arises the ironic conflict that informs the poem. This 138 conflict rests within the narrator himself, between his allegiance to spiritual and moral values on one hand, and on the other his overwhelming humanness which prevents him from finally attaching himself to other than purely human activity. As a narrator Tiresias stands at a point midway between the particularized actor-narrators of the earlier monologues and the less personalized, although equally individual, "I" of the final great poems. He is a figure who experiences the action by proxy, unlike either the earlier or the later narrators. Like the earlier narrators he is a figure who is clearly distinct from the poet. Like the "I" of Ash Wednesday and the Four Quartets he is detached sufficiently to understand, at least partially, the situation in which he finds himself. But this understanding is more limited than that of the narrators in the later poems, for i t includes only his external world, not himself. Thus,, in the figure of Tiresias lie two possibilities for further development. On one hand he points to the narrators of Ash Wednesday and Four Quartets, who have the ability to create absolutes out of personal experience. The development from Tiresias to the "I" of Ash Wednesday is not really great. Both narrators participate in some way in the action of the poem, and both have the ability to stand apart from the action and weigh i t . The chief difference is that the "I" of Ash Wednesday judges his own action and motives in relation to, and by the standards of, an absolute set of values. Tiresias, on the other hand, judges the characters about him, condemning their sterility and absence of faith, not 139 his own. As a result, the narrator of Ash Wednesday succeeds in dissociating himself and his values from his own personal emotions; Tiresias f a i l s , fails because he lacks the kind of humility to say, Teach us to care and not to care. Tiresias, in fact, is distinguished by his pride. From the beginning: Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images, to 17 Dry bones can harm no one, Tiresias continually assumes the pose' that enables him to say, in effect, of the other characters "There, but for my superior knowledge, go I." The final irony, of course, is that his knowledge does not save him; his pride does not prevent his becoming one of the damned; consequently the final stanza shows him also to be one who is only in possession of "A heap of broken images:" his "fragments." And the irony is heightened because his fragments include the "keys" to redemption--"Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata." The second possible development from Tiresias is the complete extinction of individuality-'-rnot transcendence, as is found in the later poems, but extinction. Prufrock is a character in his poem, the central character. Tiresias, i f we may continue to use Eliot's description, is a personage, not a character. Continuing this development would result in a narrator who is not even a personage, who has no individual existence of his own whatever.. This is in a sense what does happen in The Hollow 140 Men. For i f The Waste Land is a poem with a persona who is indistinct as an individual personality, The Hollow Men goes even further. It is a poem almost without a persona, almost, in fact, without any voice. Tiresias at least is an individual capable of points of view; he is capable of assuming the personalities of those he sees, but this ability does not cause the extinction of his own individuality. But one can hardly speak of a persona in The Hollow Men: i t is for the most part a chorus speaking, and the "I" sections are not distinguishable from the "we" sections,unless i t is in the strong wish not to be an individual: Let me be no nearer In death's dream kingdom Let me also wear Such deliberate disguises. Escape, in fact, is central to the speaker of this poem. The emphasis throughout the poem is upon the elimination of his individual presence. The f i r s t section begins with an assertion, although negative in intent, of an identity; but this assertion is couched in the collective plural: We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together They possess a single collective "Headpiece f i l l e d with straw." In the second stanza the pronoun shifts to the singular, but the speaker merely asks not to be an individual: Let me be no nearer In death's dream kingdom Let me also wear Such deliberate disguises 141 Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves In a field Behaving as the wind behaves No nearer After this any explicit reference to the self occurs only rarely and always in the plural. In the third and fourth sections highly depersonalized synecdoche replaces the personal pronoun:"^ Here the stone images Are raised, here they receive The supplication of a dead man's hand and Lips that would kiss Form prayers to broken stone. Yet as the apparent effort to withdraw is made, there is a sense in which the suffering consciousness becomes more real. The final refrain--For Thine is Life is For thine is the--represents the kind of hysteria present in such passages from The Waste Land as the meeting with Stetson or the final stanza of the poem. Thus, like The Waste Land this poem represents the effect of the extinction (opposed to the transcendence) of individuality and personality. The persona who is afraid of his individuality and personality is also in-capable of forming any moral or spiritual absolutes, and therefore' is separated from l i f e itself. This fact is central to Eliot's poetry, particularly from this point onward. The chief difficulty, then, in speaking of the persona of The 142 Hollow Men is to identify the persona. The question occurs, "Are any of the speakers distinguishable in any way from the others?" The theme, tone, and the liturgical basis of the poem a l l suggest that there is nothing by which the speakers are to be distinguished. They possess the anonymity of a collection of voices in liturgical response. In fact, the liturgical tone of the poem compensates in a way for the lack of a 20 definable persona; the liturgy replaces the persona. The prosody of The Hollow Men i s , of course, a parody on the liturgy of the Church. The short, formal lines of grave intent suggest the ritual of the Church service from the 7te>ok oT Vommdn Pva'y&v. And this is enforced by the numerous references and allusions to the rituals of the Church. In addition there are a number of references to pagan rituals which also have had, at one time, a real significance to men. Obviously, the i n i t i a l effect of this liturgical method is to satirize the hollow men who have the liturgy without the meaning, whose ritual is therefore empty and offers no solace. But in addition the use of ritual in The Hollow Men represents an important step in the develop-ment from the complex and indecisive function of ritual in The Waste Land to the more straightforward and personal use of i t in Ash Wednesday. Although the ritual in The Hollow Men is used satirically, i t i s , for the f i r s t time in Eliot's poetry, explicitly religious. That is to say, even in The Waste Land the ritual, which is mostly anthropological in origin, is used to express the desires, the history, and the failure of men and man. In The Hollow Men the ritual depends for its success upon 143 our recognition of i t as formal, t r a d i t i o n a l l i t u r g y of the Church. That the hollow men themselves are unable, because un w i l l i n g , to f i n d meaning i n t h e i r r i t u a l does not r e f l e c t upon the r i t u a l i t s e l f : only on the men. The meaning of the poem depends upon the reader's recognition of the f a c t that the r i t u a l i s not diminished by the hollow men's misuse of i t ; rather the hollow men are shown to be as they are through thei r use of i t . There are s i m i l a r i t i e s , of course, with the e a r l i e r poetry; the pagan f e r t i l i t y r i t u a l i m p l i c i t i n the song: Here we go round the p r i c k l y pear . . . i s s i m i l a r i n a way to the pagan myths i n The Waste Land. But there i s a d e f i n i t e and s i g n i f i c a n t s h i f t i n emphasis from The Waste Land to The Hollow Men, a s h i f t that points c l e a r l y toward the acceptance of Chr i s t i a n r i t u a l i n Ash Wednesday. The l i t u r g i c a l , r e l i g i o u s , use of r i t u a l i n The Hollow Men might be said to replace the narrator as the c o n t r o l l i n g , unifying device of the poem. The hollow men are incapable of in d i v i d u a l voices; thus t h e i r expression emerges through a formalized style that acts as a substitute f o r in d i v i d u a l a b i l i t y . But unlike Ash Wednesday the r i t u a l i n The Hollow Men i s a refuge; not an attempt to reach out to something beyond the human but rather merely to escape the human. Again the impersonality of the characters arises from t h e i r cowardice and hollowness. There i s no "character" i n The Hollow Men; there i s no single "voice;" consequently t h e i r method of narration i s the only d i r e c t contact we have with them. That i s to say, the method of narration i s the narration i t s e l f ; we have 144 nothing else but a hollow parody on meaningful r i t u a l . The absence of a s p e c i f i c narrator i s not, of course, p a r t i c u l a r l y unusual i n poetry. I t i s , however, unusual i n the dramatic monologue and of course, The Hollow Men i s a monologue. I t i s a monologue i n which the theme i s the absence of an indiv i d u a l voice. As a r e s u l t the narrator lacks a voice of his own. This i s perhaps the epitome of impersonality i n the monologue--the monologue without a narrator. A l l trace of the in d i v i d u a l persona i s gone. Yet the s i t u a t i o n into which the hollow men are placed requires an ind i v i d u a l response. "Those who have crossed [death? f a i t h ? ] with d i r e c t eyes" stand i n contrast to the hollow men, f o r they represent, i f anything, a sense of ind i v i d u a l bravery. In contrast the hollow men are a f r a i d , and th i s fear brings them together, "Leaning together." The major judgment made upon the hollow men, i n f a c t , i s made i n terms of the f a i l u r e of i n d i v i d u a l i t y . The poem i s f i l l e d with the wish not to be alone, not to assert a personality and an i n d i v i d u a l i t y . The chief f a i l u r e of the characters i s the f a i l u r e to assert t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s . Instead they lean together with t h e i r c o l l e c t i v e headpiece f i l l e d with straw. I t i s i n respect to t h i s theme that perhaps the most thorough and convincing d e f i n i t i o n of personality, as E l i o t regards i t from t h i s point onward, can be made. Personality, i n popular usage, generally has something to do with those characteristics of the s e l f i n which one d i f f e r s from other s e l v e s — i n d i v i d u a l i t y . The characters of The Hollow Men have no marks of i n d i v i d u a l i t y . Yet their impersonality i s t o t a l l y 145 one of f a i l u r e . There i s another kind of "personality" which E l i o t increasingly used and which he obliquely defined i n his essay on Yeats i n the passage I have already quoted a number of times. Instead of going to that essay again i t might be more helpful to return to Hulme for a minute, to a d e f i n i t i o n which seems e n t i r e l y consistent with what 21 E l i o t had i n mind. In explaining the essential difference between the medieval r e l i g i o u s mind and the modern humanistic mind, Hulme stresses the l o s s , i n Humanism, of the doctrine of o r i g i n a l s i n : that i s , the b e l i e f that man's nature i s forever l i m i t e d and flawed. The f a i l u r e to believe i n o r i g i n a l s i n , says Hulme, results i n the exaggerated f a i t h i n human personality. He goes on to formulate two errors which follow t h i s s h i f t i n thought. (1) The error i n human things; the confusion blurs the clear outlines of human relations by introducing into them the Perfection that properly belongs to the non-human. I t thus creates the bastard conception of Personality. In l i t e r a t u r e i t leads to romanticism . . . (2) The confusion created i n the absolute values of r e l i g i o n and ethics i s even greater. I t d i s t o r t s the r e a l nature of e t h i c a l values by deriving them out of e s s e n t i a l l y subjective things, l i k e human desires and fe e l i n g s ; and a l l attempts to "explain" r e l i g i o n , on a humanist basis, whether i t be C h r i s t i a n i t y , or an a l i e n r e l i g i o n l i k e Buddhism, must always be f u t i l e . As a minor example of t h i s , take the question of immortality. I t seems paradoxical at f i r s t s i g h t , that the Middle Ages, which lacked e n t i r e l y the conception of personality, had a r e a l b e l i e f i n immortality; while thought since the Renaissance, which has been dominated by the b e l i e f i n personality, has not had the same conviction. You might have expected that i t would be the people who thought they r e a l l y had something worth preserving who would have thought they were immortal, but the contrary i s the case. Moreover, those thinkers since the Renaissance who have believed i n immortality and who have attempted to give explanations of 146 i t , have, i n my opinion, gone wrong, because they have dealt with i t i n terms of the category of i n d i v i d u a l i t y . The problem can only be p r o f i t a b l y dealt with by being e n t i r e l y re-stated. This i s j u s t one instance of the way i n which thought about these things, i n terms of categories appropriate only to human and v i t a l things, d i s t o r t s them. (Speculations, pp. 48, 49) And l a t e r , when amplifying upon t h i s , Hulme takes an example of the difference between Byzantine and Renaissance a r t . Renaissance a r t we may c a l l a " v i t a l " a r t i n that i t depends on pleasure i n the reproduction of human and natural forms. Byzantine a r t i s the exact contrary of t h i s . There i s nothing v i t a l i n i t ; the emotion you get from i t i s not a pleasure i n the reproduction of natural or human l i f e . . The disgust with the t r i v i a l and accidental characteristics of l i v i n g shapes, the searching a f t e r an a u s t e r i t y , a perfection and r i g i d i t y which v i t a l things can never have, lead here to the use of forms which can almost be c a l l e d geometrical. Man i s subordinate to c e r t a i n absolute values: there i s no-delight i n the human form, leading to i t s natural reproduction; i t i s always distorted to f i t into the more abstract forms which convey an intense r e l i g i o u s emotion. (p. 53) The import of Hulme's comments i s that there i s an essential difference between personality as character and personality i n the more popular sense, as i n d i v i d u a l differences. When Hulme uses the term i n these passages he refers to the popular notion of personality, to the b e l i e f , i n f a c t , that accidental differences of "personality" between men i s important. This i s a d i f f e r e n t thing from a s p e c i f i c individual's personality, i n the sense of his own feelings and emotions. For Hulme nowhere denies the necessity of the individual's coming to terms with the absolute i n a personal, ind i v i d u a l sense. What he does deny i s that the way to come to the absolute i s by a t t r i b u t i n g to i t ch a r a c t e r i s t i c s of 147 the individual's own personality. In other words, individuality is inescapable, but i t must be subordinate to the absolute. This conception of personality is consistent with that which informs The Hollow Men. To paraphrase an earlier statement by Eliot, they are impersonal where they should be individual, and personal where they should be impersonal. Their impersonality--and the impersonality inherent in the method of narration of the poem--is really a fear to be alone, a self. But the emphasis upon the individual characteristics of man in general, upon the abstraction of "personality" as Hulme uses the term, prevents them from becoming individual selves. There is no centre in the hollow men-- or, for that matter, in the poem itself (excepting the ritual)--to hold things together. There is nothing with which to meet the absolute (which is "more distant . . .than a fading star"), with which to cross into "death's other Kingdom." It is significant in this respect that as a link between The Waste Land and Ash Wednesday 3 The Hollow Men possesses fragments of elements which are central to both, but lacks the respective unifying forces that hold the other poems together. Like the earlier monologues, there is a satirical view of people without faith, without spiritual absolutes. But there is no "character" in the poem who serves as a point of view. And like the later poems, there is a positive and religious use of ritual, suggesting a formal approach to the absolutes of theistic and religious values, but again there is no sense of individuality from which the absolute can be approached. The'Hollow Men is Eliot's only 148 substantial poem lacking a specific persona, a consciousness through which the external can be viewed, a personal point of view.: This i s , I think, a real flaw in the poem, making of i t a "minor" poem. It possesses the usual Eliotic sense of proper sound and development; i t lacks only the point of view which is present in the poems that precede and follow i t . It i s , however, for this reason, enlightening, for i t illustrates the importance that the individual point of view continues to have in Eliot's poetry. For time and eternity to intersect, both time (the human) and eternity must be present. If, as in The Hollow Men, the human disappears (i.e. the specifically individual human consciousness) the eternal also disappears. The eternal is absolute in Eliot's thought, but i t is not "abstract" in the sense of being vague. It is as specific as is the individual self. And i t requires a specific self through which to be apprehended. In those of Eliot's poems in which the persona lacks individuality and specificity, the success of the poem is limited. The Hollow Men, although undoubtedly a good, competent poem, suffers from the fault of the earliest short lyrics: i t presents a mood, a state of consciousness, with no conscious-ness present. In the poems that follow The Hollow Men, Eliot returns to the use of a specific, identifiable persona to give the poems direction and unity. 149 CHAPTER 4 FOOTNOTES The Poetry of Experience: the. Dramatic Monologue in Modern Literary Tradition (New York: Norton, 1957). See espe c i a l l y Ch. I I , "The Dramatic L y r i c and the L y r i c a l Drama." 2 The Invisible Poet, p. 35. Prufrock, Kenner says, i s "a name plus a voice . . . . Prufrock i s strangely boundless; one doesn't a f f i r m at a given point with c e r t a i n t y , 'Here i s where his knowledge would have stopped,' or 'These are subtleties to which he would not have aspired.'" Even allowing f o r a c e r t a i n amount of exaggeration to make a necessary point about E l i o t ' s poetic technique, this description i s surely more appropriate f o r The Waste Land than i t i s for "Prufrock." One wonders i f E l i o t had struck out i n a di f f e r e n t d i r e c t i o n after the early monologues i f they would s t i l l be characterized i n terms l i k e Kenner uses; how much of our description of "Prufrock" i s dictated by our knowledge of the l a t e r poems? 3 One of Pound's marginal comments i n the recently published manuscript of The Waste Land would seem to confirm t h i s . Beside a passage i n which the narrator says something quite vaguely, Pound admonished, "Make up yr mind/ you T i r e s i a s / i f you know/ know damn w e l l / or else you don't." 4 A number of c r i t i c s have been more cautious, r e f e r r i n g to the narrator of the poem as the "protagonist" or the "persona." (I know of no serious argument against the assumption that there i s a central voice throughout the poem, the only question i s the extent to which that voice can be i d e n t i f i e d , either as a dramatic character or as a mask for the poet. I t seems to me that i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of the narrator i s both e n t i r e l y consistent with the poem i t s e l f and very h e l p f u l i n bringing a clearer understanding to our reading of the poem, i n the mythical association which Tiresias brings with him. "The Waste Land'. Critique of the Myth," Modern Poetry and the Tradition (Chapel H i l l : The University of North Carolina Press, 1939), p. 167. ^ Although the biographical information remains incomplete, i t i s clear enough that The Waste Land was inspired by E l i o t ' s own personal, m a r i t a l , economic, etc., problems i n combination with h i s observation of "the present decay of eastern Europe" (and perhaps western Europe as w e l l ) . What I am speaking of i s i n addition to t h i s ; that w i t h i n the poem i t s e l f the narrator himself undergoes this process by which i n d i v i d u a l , or t y p i c a l , experience becomes universal. Modern Poetry and the Tradition, pp. 142-143. 150 g Such a response, of course, could be simply imagined by the narrator, just as Prufrock imagines his lady's responses. 9 E l i o t t e l l s us i n a note that t h i s church i s about to be demolished. E l i o t t e l l s us that i n t h i s part "they speak i n turn." That the three i n d i v i d u a l statements seem to form one hist o r y i s not only a further i n d i c a t i o n of the sameness of a l l the characters, but also another l i n k between the inhabitants Of the waste land and the hollow men who "lean together." One i s reminded of Conrad (whom E l i o t often used) and Stein's injunction to immerse oneself i n the destructive elements (a s i m i l a r use of the water image) , ;in Lord Jim. 12 This i s the same combination present i n "The F i r e Sermon," the chief difference being that i n "What the Thunder Said" the narrative voice i s even more confused and personal. 13 This d i s t i n c t i o n between "we" and " I " (that i s between f i r s t person singular and p l u r a l rather than between f i r s t and second person) brings "What the Thunder Said" closer to The Hollow Men than to any of the other monologues i n i t s point of view. 14 The most common interpretation i s that the "persona" becomes the quester i n t h i s section. (E.g. See Brooks, Modern Poetry and the Tradition, pp. 160-163.) E l i o t ' s thesis on Bradley i s i n s i s t e n t i n a number of passages upon the necessity of a well-developed personality, or character, i n the achieve-ment of meaningful human relationships. In Speculations, ed. Herbert Read (London, 1924), pp. 3-71, E l i o t ' s favourable review of the book i n the Criterion shows that he knew and l i k e d the essay. 17 Cf., the "dry bones" i n Ash Wednesday, I I . Tiresias's boast i s an example of his f a i l u r e to understand the s p i r i t u a l implications of many of the symbols which occupy his reverie. 1 8 C'£., E l i o t ' s condemnation of Shelley's s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m i n "Literature and the Modern World," American Prefaces, 1:2 (Nov., 1935), 19-22: Shelley's excitement i s i n his head, and therefore emits rather s h r i l l and inapplicable head noises" [ i t a l i c s mine]. 151 This i s an echo of what Prufrock does with his women. They also are only voices, arms, s k i r t s , etc. 20 I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t to compare t h i s use of l i t u r g y with the use of the Mass and of prayer i n Ash Wednesday. The l i t u r g y of The Hollow Men i s modelled after one of the most impersonal parts of worship, the unison response; the mass and the r i t u a l of prayer, while equally formal, are f a r more personal i n the sense that they involve the indi v i d u a l more or less d i r e c t l y i n some sort of contact with the divine. See my note #16 above. There can be no doubt that E l i o t knew and admired (more important, agreed with) Hulme's work by t h i s time. CHAPTER 5 "AND AFTER THIS OUR EXILE": LOOKING TO DEATH FOR WHAT LIFE CANNOT GIVE. In the f i v e or s i x years following the publication of The Hollow Men E l i o t experimented with a va r i e t y of poetic voices. He began with the dramatic fragment, Sweeney Agonistes, which was published i n the Criterion i n 1926. I n a way the t r a n s i t i o n to drama was natural a f t e r The Hollow Men\ the normal technique of the drama i s d i r e c t presentation of the characters with no narrator whatever, which would seem to be the next natural step a f t e r the c o l l e c t i v e personae of The Hollow Men. However, Sweeney Agonistes appears to have presented E l i o t with problems which he found, at t h i s point, insurmountable, and he f i n a l l y published i t along with Coriolan, as an "unfinished poem.""'" With "Sweeney" out of the way, E l i o t continued to experiment with d i f f e r e n t voices. From 1927 to 1930 he wrote four Ariel poems and Ash Wednesday. Except for "Animula" (the least successful of the four) the Ariel poems are monologues i n which the narrators are h i s t o r i c a l or semi-h i s t o r i c a l figures. In this respect they are the most " t r a d i t i o n a l " monologues E l i o t ever wrote. Thematically, the progression from "Journey of the Magi" (1927), through "A Song f o r Simeon" (1928) to "Marina" (1930) i s interesting for the development of a kind of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n and 153 discovery that recalls Shakespeare's final plays. As in Vericles, Winter's Tale or The Tempest, the pervading image of reconciliation becomes the uniting of generations. The image is implicit in "Journey of the Magi" and "A Song for Simeon"--the old men finding rebirth in a child--and i t is completed in "Marina." In each case the narrator learns (or tries to learn) a resignation which comes from two discoveries: f i r s t , that the individual has a temporary but proper place within the continuing tradition of his race, and second, that birth and death are connected in various mysterious ways. Thus, one general characteristic shared by the Magus, Sdjneon and Pericles, which sets them apart from earlier narrators, is their humility. This is different from the cowardice of the hollow men, for i t does not necessarily reject the individual's importance; i t merely is a view which recognizes and strives to accept the individual's limitations in the face of more permanent facts and traditions. Allan Tate put this succinctly, saying that the central mood of the poems to The Hollow Men is ironic, while in Ash Wednesday and the Ariel poems the mood is humble. He goes on to illustrate that in say, The Waste Land, the poet's mood [toward his narrator's] is "But for the grace of God, . . . there go I," while in the later poems the poet is more sympathetic toward 3 the narrators. Denis Harding described this shift when he said that in the poetry before Ash Wednesday the dominant note is protest, the characters are "sufferers" rather than "failures," and the poet "invite[s] you to step across a dividing line and join him in guaranteed Tightness. . . Throughout the earlier poems there are traces of what, i f i t were cruder and 154 without irony and impersonality, would be f e l t at once as s e l f - p i t y or f u t i l e protest." In the l a t e r poetry, Harding says, the poet "never in v i t e s you to believe that everything undesirable i n you i s due to outside influences that can be blamed for tampering with your o r i g i n a l rightness," but instead merely "suggests at the most that you and he should both t r y , i n f a m i l i a r and d i f f i c u l t ways, not to l i v e so badly." One might add that the dramatic characters as w e l l as poet and reader are subject to t h i s attitude. Thus, the lessening of the irony brings the poet's attitude closer to that of his narrators i n these monologues; and, as Harding concludes, "the clearer and more d i r e c t r e a l i z a t i o n of t h i s kind of experience . . . makes the l a t e r poems at the same time more personal and more mature." The poems published i n 1927 begin t h i s transformation. The Magus i s E l i o t ' s f i r s t dramatic character to recognize with anything approaching f u l l understanding the personal implications of the paradox of death and r e b i r t h : I had seen b i r t h and death, But had thought they were d i f f e r e n t ; t h i s B i r t h was Hard and b i t t e r agony f o r us, l i k e Death, our death. But the Magus's understanding of t h i s paradox (which i s s i m i l a r to the poet's understanding of i t ) arises from his recognition that he does not r e a l l y understand i t ; he only recognizes and accepts i t as a condition of his new existence. He i s neither angry nor self-righteous about his discovery, and i t i s t h i s kind of submission, or humility, that distinguishes him from the e a r l i e r narrators. And i t i s accompanied by 155 a new sense of separation from the old self: We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. This is, however, only a tentative beginning; and the Magus's conclusion is really another kind of escape even i f put in different and more positive terms from the earlier poems. There is a definite develop-ment from These fragments I have shored against my ruins to I should be glad of another death. The latter contains a good deal more resignation and even purpose, but i t s t i l l suggests a strong wish to escape the strain of being human. However, the Magus' gloom is tempered by the recognition of a certain kind of continuity between the different--human and spiritual--births and deaths, and this points the way towards Eliot's final reconciliation with the human condition and the individual personality. "A Song for Simeon," like "Journey of the Magi," is a "traditional" monologue; what is new in this poem is not narrative technique or posture, but rather a difference in the situation, and consequently the attitudes, of the narrator. The Magus finds himself wrenched out of his old tradition--the old dispensation--and placed into an alien tradition. Hence he is alienated from both, at home neither in the new nor in the old ways. The result is a profound disenchantment with l i f e and a desire to escape into "another death." Simeon, on the other hand, is 156 placed f i r m l y w i t h i n a long and powerful t r a d i t i o n ; h i s sense of continuity i s prevalent throughout the poem: I have walked many years i n t h i s c i t y , Kept f a i t h and f a s t , provided for the poor, Have given and taken honour and ease. Let the Infant, the s t i l l unspeaking and unspoken Word, Grant Israel's consolation. According to thy word. They s h a l l praise Thee and suffer i n every generation. I t i s t h i s emphasis on his t r a d i t i o n that permits Simeon to conclude more hopefully than does the Magus, even though there i s s t i l l a sense of doom. Simeon asks, Who s h a l l remember my house, where s h a l l l i v e my children's children When the time of sorrow i s come? They w i l l take the goat's path, and the foxes' home, Fleeing from the foreign faces and the foreign swords. But from t h i s dismal prophecy of destruction Simeon progresses to resolution and r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . F i r s t , he prays f o r his God's peace "before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation." His prayer i s not merely personal; i t i s f o r the nation. "Grant us thy peace," he says twice before he f i n a l l y prays f o r himself. Of course i t i s the Messiah who i s to be the means by which God's peace i s granted--the saviour of the nation. But he i s also the saviour of men, and Simeon's prayer moves from the communal to the personal. This begins with h i s recognition of the l i m i t a t i o n s of h i s understanding of t h i s event, the b i r t h of the Messiah: 157 Not f o r me the martyrdom, the ecstacy of thought and prayer, Not f o r me the ultimate v i s i o n . Grant me thy peace. And a f t e r t h i s recognition that t h i s Messiah, too, must suffer he concludes with a tone of resignation: I am t i r e d with my own l i f e and the l i v e s of those a f t e r me, I am dying i n my own death and the deaths of those after me. But because of his attachment to the tradition--which includes the future as wel l as the past--and because he has had h i s own v i s i o n , t h i s resignation i s a p o s i t i v e one that transcends the human weariness of the Magus. Compare, " I should be glad of another death," with Simeon's: Let thy servant depart Having seen thy salvation. In the figure of Simeon there i s a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n between the personal and the sense of community that i s new to E l i o t ' s poetry. I t comes from Simeon's own view of himself as a part of his people. Throughout the poem Simeon sees h i s own fate as the fate of h i s nation--his "house"^ and descendents, and conversely he sees the fate of his people as his own fate. This attachment enables him to conceive of himself i n terms that are at once personal and impersonal, as an ind i v i d u a l that i s also part of something larger than the merely i n d i v i d u a l . Consequently he possesses a sense of place and relationships. In addition, he possesses the a b i l i t y to recognize the value of his own v i s i o n , even i f i t i s not the "ultimate v i s i o n . " In t h i s , "A Song for Simeon" anticipates the Four Quartets i n which one of the central themes i s that of the "r e f l e c t e d " v i s i o n , the "hints and guesses" which 158 approximate i n human terms the divine v i s i o n . In the f i n a l stanza of "A Song for Simeon" the narrator f i r s t comes to terms with the l i m i t e d nature of his own understanding and from t h i s arises a resignation that permits him to recognize the f u l l value of the v i s i o n and understanding of which he i s capable. This recognition seems to permit the extension of the general theme of rediscovery into the personal and purely human realm. Conse-quently, the central theme of "Marina" (1930) i s the rediscovery of human joy. This i s apparent i n the i r o n i c contrast between the epigraph--Hercules' lament upon discovering he has murdered his own children--and Per i c l e s ' discovery of his l o s t daughter. The implication i n t h i s contrast i s one of the f a m i l i a r paradox of death and rebirth--to l i v e you must d i e , and to have you must f i r s t renounce. But here there i s an additional element to t h i s paradox: to have you must not expect, f o r the object desired comes only as a g i f t , by chance, as i t were; never through conscious e f f o r t . P e ricles renounces a l l that i s n a t u r a l i s t i c and human: Those who sharpen the tooth of the dog, meaning Death Those who g l i t t e r with the glory of the hummingbird, meaning Death Those who s i t i n the sty of contentment, meaning Death Those who suffer the ecstasy of the animals, meaning Death Are become unsubstantial, reduced by a wind, A breath of pine, and the woodsong fog By t h i s grace dissolved i n place. 159 Yet the joy he discovers is not non-human. Its object is plainly human, his daughter. However, i t is also spiritual. Marina i s , in fact, described in terms that suggest the incarnation. Almost like God become man, she is "this grace dissolved in place." These terms with which Pericles greets his daughter are both human and spiritual, (reminiscent of Simeon's prayer): This form, this face, this l i f e Living to live in a world of time beyond me; let me Resign my li f e for this l i f e , my speech for that unspoken, The awakened, lips parted, the hope, the new ships. The joy discovered by Pericles, in short, is human, but i t partakes of the spiritual since i t reflects something of the eternal absolute joy of the spiritual realm. It is a spiritual grace "dissolved" in the physical world, and i t looks forward to the image of eternity "intersected" by time in the Four Quartets. The shift that this represents is one in which the relationship between personality and personal experience is altered, and with the new concepts of this relationship, there are also new attitudes toward the use of personal experiences (and personality, for that matter) in the poetry itself. To explain these ideas i t is necessary to look at some of the comments Eliot made in his critical writings. In "Tradition and the Individual Talent" Eliot had said that, "It is not in his personal emotions, the emotions provoked by particular events in his l i f e , that the poet is in any way remarkable or interesting. His particular emotions may be simple, or crude, or flat," and yet he will produce poetry with very complex emotions. Undoubtedly Eliot's intention here is to attack the romantic 160 notion that a poet i s an important personage; the f i r s t sentence i n t h i s passage might have been written at any time of E l i o t ' s l i f e . But the assertion that the poet's own "emotions may be sample, or crude, or f l a t " with no e f f e c t upon h i s poetry i s a r a d i c a l p o s i t i o n which E l i o t d i d not hold long. For i n the l a t e r essays the emphasis i s directed rather toward the necessity of personal experiences of some qu a l i t y and significance i n the poet's own l i f e . Of course E l i o t never returned to the Romantic notion that i n d i v i d u a l idiosyncrasies i n a poet are necessary or admirable; indeed After Strange Gods (1934) i s E l i o t ' s strongest argument ever for the necessity of c o n t r o l l i n g the poet's idiosyncrasies. But i n the major essays of 1928 to 1935--Dante (1929), The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933) and After Strange Gods--there i s a new sense that personal experience and the personality are of central importance i n a l i f e as i n a poem, if there i s a recognition of the inherent l i m i t a t i o n s and the utter humanness of any personal experience, f e e l i n g or emotion. The qu a l i t y of the poet's experiences, then, has something to do with the qu a l i t y of his poems. The f i r s t e x p l i c i t statement about t h i s relationship comes from the section on the Vita Nuova i n the essay on Dante (1929): Now Dante, I believe, had experiences which seemed to him of some importance; not of importance because they had happened to him and because he, Dante A l i g h i e r i , was an important person who kept press-cutting bureaux busy; but important i n themselves; and therefore they seemed to him to have some philosophical and impersonal value. Of course, i t i s p l a i n that the experiences are important f o r the value they have i n a "philosophic and impersonal" sense, but the emphasis i t s e l f 161 upon the importance of the personal experience is significant. One can hardly imagine a "simple, or crude, or flat" emotion having Dante's kind of complex philosophical value. It is in After Strange Gods that Eliot's new position in this respect is most clearly stated. Eliot begins the book with this para-graph : Some years ago I wrote an essay entitled Tradition and the Individual Talent. During the course of sub-sequent years I have discovered, or had brought to my attention, some unsatisfactory phrasing and at least one more than doubtful analogy. But I do not repudiate what I wrote in that essay more fully than I should expect to do after such a lapse of time. The problem, naturally, does not seem to me simple as i t seemed then, nor could I treat i t now as a purely literary one. What I propose to attempt in these three lectures is to outline the matter as I now conceive i t . Eliot then proceeds in the f i r s t lecture to propose new terms to explain the relationship between the tradition and the individual talent, between the "conscious" and the "unconscious" functions of the poet, between the personal experience and the poetry. Orthodoxy and heterodoxy (heresy) he says, are roughly equivalent to classicism and romanticism, but they are more complex and universal.^ Tradition, he says, is the instinctual vitalization of the present by the past; i t is "habit, breeding, environment," which come more or less automatically merely by living in one's own age. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, is the "conscious intellectual upholding of absolute values;" i t is the criticism of the tradition, the conscious interpretation of i t . Thus, the earlier term, "tradition," is divided into two parts, one instinctive 162 "emotional;" and the other conscious, rational. Then in the remaining two lectures Eliot elaborates upon the implications in this division, dwelling with particular emphasis upon orthodoxy. The lack of orthodoxy, he says in the second lecture, leads to extreme individualism in the author's beliefs and to literary expression that is unconnected to a tradition. In the third lecture he traces the results of this individualism using the novel as his example: Contemporary eminent novelists . . . have been more concerned than their predecessors--consciously or not--to impose upon their readers their own personal view of l i f e , and . . . this is merely a part of the whole movement of several centuries towards the aggrandisement and exploitation of personality. I do not suggest that "personality" is an i l l i c i t intruder; I imagine that the admirersrs of Jane Austen are a l l fascinated by something that may be called her persona-li t y . But personality, with Jane Austen, with Dickens and with Thackeray, was more nearly in its proper place. The standards by which they criticised their world, i f not very lofty ones, were at least not of their own making . . . . These novelists were s t i l l observers: however superficial--in contrast, for instance, to Flaubert--we find their observations to be. They are orthodox enough according to the light of their day: the f i r s t suspicion of heresy creeps in with . . . George Eliot. George Eliot seems to me to be of the same tribe as a l l the serious and eccentric moralists we have had since: we must respect her for being a serious moralist, but deplore her individualistic morals. What I have been leading up to is the following assertion: that when morals cease to be a matter of tradition and orthodoxy--that i s , of the habits of the community formulated, corrected, and elevated by the continuous thought and direction of the Church--and when each man is to elaborate his own, then personality becomes a thing of alarming importance. (pp. 53-54) Eliot is not rejecting out of hand the personality; instead he is merely arguing that i t must be put "in its proper place." That is , a writer 163 should not eliminate his personality, but should see to i t that his personality i s "orthodox"--i.e. subjected to external controls. I t i s only when the personality i s set up as the standard of moral values that i t becomes "a thing of alarming importance." The implication i n l i t e r a t u r e i s quite c l e a r : even assuming that the author i s able to eliminate his own personality from his work, any emphasis upon personality as an important thing i n i t s e l f i s contrary to "orthodoxy," r e s u l t i n g i n an unhealthy emphasis on personal in t e r p r e t a t i o n of morals. In l i t e r a t u r e as i n everything e l s e , personality and moral value must not be confused; moral value i s external to the i n d i v i d u a l ; i t i s absolute and the i n d i v i d u a l i s f i n i t e : Where there i s no external test of the v a l i d i t y of a writer's work, we f a i l to dist i n g u i s h between the t r u t h of h i s view of l i f e and the personality which makes i t p l a u s i b l e ; so that i n our reading, we may be simply y i e l d i n g ourselves up to one seductive personality after another. The f i r s t r e q u i s i t e usually held up by the promoters of personality i s that a man should "be himself;" and th i s " s i n c e r i t y " i s considered more important than that the s e l f i n question should, s o c i a l l y and s p i r i t u a l l y , be a good or a bad one. This view of personality i s merely an assumption on the part of the modern world, and i s no more tenable than several other views which have been held at various times and i n various places. The personality thus expressed, the personality which fascinates us i n the work of philosophy or a r t , tends naturally to be the unregenerate personality, p a r t l y self-deceived, and p a r t l y irresponsible, and because of i t s freedom, t e r r i b l y limited by prejudice and self-conceit, capable of much good or of great mis-chief according to the natural goodness or impurity of the man. {After Strange Gods, pp. 62-63) Apart from the theological implications involved, the phrasing of these statements suggest the nature and extent of Eli o t ^ s i d i s ' t r u s t of personality. 164 Sincere self-expression is the expression of "the unregenerate personality," "capable of much good or of great mischief" (usually the latter). By contrast those earlier authors whose concern was not self-expression were content to act as "observers;" hence the "standards by which they criticised their world, i f not very lofty ones, were at least not of their own making." This position is not as simplistic as the position stated in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," for here i t is not as necessary that the author's personality be eliminated, but that the celebration of personality itself must be curtailed. In the early poems the poet is ostensibly absent from the poems, but the poems revolve around the personalities of the narrators and characters. Prufrock's failures are failures of personality, but even the standards by which these failures are measured are largely personal standards, self-contained and self-centred. In the Ariel poems, on the other hand, external, traditional standards are brought to bear upon themselves by the characters; as a result the characters recognize something of their relation to an absolute world. And personality ceases to be a thing of "alarming importance," although i t is not made extinct. In fact, in a poem such as "Marina" while the personality of the narrator diminishes in importance, the personal experience becomes more central, and the resolution is worked out in terms of human experience, the specific experience of the narrator. Except for the Four Quartets, Ash Wednesday is Eliot's most ambitious attempt to achieve this balance between the personal and the 165 external. In the first place, this is the first of Eliot's major works in which the persona is not clearly distinguished from the poet. Although one does not say with certainty that the narrator is Eliot himself, there are many indications in the poems that the narrator is closely associated with the poet, although many of these indications are s t i l l veiled and indirect. However i t does not take much imagination to catch the significance of the reference to Cavalcanti, the exiled poet, in the first line, or to Shakespeare's sonnet in the line, "Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope." In other words, although we must continue to speak of the "I" in A6k Wadmiday as a persona rather than as the poet himself, we no longer have to take the persona as a consciously-used mask to hide the poet. In addition, the poems represent a thematic blending of personal experience and formal, external control. This can be seen, first, in Eliot's use of the two central referents in the poems: Dante's V-iv-im Comndy and the Rite of the Mass. In both of these there is a unification of personal vision or personal experience and formal ritualistic ordering of experience. Dante's is surely a personal work, recounting an intensely personal vision, but recounting i t in a formal manner that objectifies and universalizes i t . (In much the same way the Rite of the Mass, by combining its formal and public liturgy with the Christian symbols of personal salvation, objectifies and thus "deper-sonalizes" the union of the individual soul with God. The ritual of prayer, which also plays a large part in Wednesday, is also personal in this sense.) 166 But in a l l these the personal experience is separated from mere idio-syncrasy by the rigidly structured formal ritual in which i t takes place. However, to stress only the personal and individual in Ash Wednesday quite obviously would be to misinterpret the intention of the work, for equal emphasis is attached to the public ritual, the external, non-personal. This equal emphasis comes about because the two elements are united in a variety of ways throughout the six poems, thus concluding a struggle that dominated the poetry to this point. We recall that Prufrock confuses the public and the private by conceiving of the external primarily as an extension of himself. Gerontion rejects the aridity of the public, communal world of Mr. Silvero and the others, but he also sees the external world as an extension of his own "draughty corner." Tiresias makes the attempt to unite both worlds but ends in confusion, and i t is uncertain at the end i f he reflects the waste land, or i f i t exists within him: i f he is observer or participant, judge or judged. And finally the Hollow Men reject their personal existence, preferring to exist only in their hollow public ritual. In Ash Wednesday the balance is achieved by rejecting the old categories; the division is no longer between public and private, but 7 between secular (the human) and spiritual (the absolute). The progression of the persona through these six poems is not from the personal to the public-,'nor from the public to the personal; i t is rather from the secular towards the beatific. Thus, i t encompasses both the personal and the public worlds by structuring the personal experience into a formal 167 public r i t u a l , which, through i t s formalism r e f l e c t s the world of eternal moral and s p i r i t u a l values. I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t that the union of these elements takes place i n a poem which contains no tortured search into the h i s t o r i c a l past, into the loss of some viable order and code; i t i s e n t i r e l y i n the present or (much the same thing) the immediate personal past of the persona. The past, of course, does e x i s t i m p l i c i t l y , but i t has i t s existence as a part of--not opposed to--the present. Thus, i n Ash Wednesday E l i o t f i n a l l y began to achieve the task he set for himself i n "Tradition and the Individual Talent." I t i s , however, not such a simple proposi-t i o n as that, for there i s a d i f f e r e n t view as to how the i n d i v i d u a l occupies his place i n the t r a d i t i o n . In Dante (1929) E l i o t explained how Dante's personal experiences were altered by the t r a d i t i o n . He notes the s i m i l a r i t i e s between the Vita Nuova and the Shepherd of Hermas, and says: Gourmont would say that Dante borrowed; but that i s imputing our own mind to the thirteenth century. I merely suggest that possibly Dante, i n his place and time, was following something more essential than merely a " l i t e r a r y " t r a d i t i o n . . . . We cannot, as a matter of f a c t , understand the Vita Nuova without some saturation i n the poetry of Dante's I t a l i a n contemporaries, or even i n the poetry of Dante's Provencal predecessors. L i t e r a r y p a r a l l e l s are most important, but we must be on guard not to take them i n a purely l i t e r a r y and l i t e r a l way. Dante wrote more or l e s s , at f i r s t , l i k e other poets, not simply because he had read the i r works, but because his modes of f e e l i n g and thought were much l i k e t h e i r s . {Selected Essays, pp. 233-235) What E l i o t , of course, i s getting at here i s that Dante was--had to be--so immersed i n his own age that his thinking would automatically be the 168 thinking of that age. However, i t i s not u n t i l 1935, f i v e years following the publication of Ash Wednesday, that E l i o t f i n a l l y stated the f u l l implication of t h i s concept. In an essay e n t i t l e d "Literature and the Modern World," E l i o t undertook to show the balance and relationship between one's(particularly the poet's) sense of i n d i v i d u a l i t y and one's sense of "membership" i n the human race: . . . the a r t i s t cannot devote himself t r u l y to any cause unless by that devotion he i s also most t r u l y being, and becoming, himself. The a r t i s t may, as Remy de Gourmont profoundly says, " i n w r i t i n g himself, write his age;" but I think that we should add that he may sometimes i n w r i t i n g his age, write himself: which w i l l come to the same thing. But i t i s from himself that he must s t a r t . E l i o t goes on to suggest that the two poles are equally dangerous and f a l s e : Whereas a man l i k e D. H. Lawrence i s i n danger of manipulating his philosophy to f i t h i s private needs and to j u s t i f y his private weaknesses, the adherent of an objective creed i s i n danger of denying, or d i s t o r t i n g himself to f i t h is b e l i e f s ; and the opposite i n s i n c e r i t y becomes possible. Both the individual's development and the p u r i t y of the creed are i n danger of being polluted; the sanest p o s i t i o n i s that which balances the s e l f and the creed against one another. E l i o t i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s by comparing the s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m of Dante and of Shelley: Shelley's excitement i s i n his head, and therefore emits rather s h r i l l and inapplicable head noises; whereas Dante's i s involved with a l l his own suffer-ings - - d e f i n i t e grievances and d e f i n i t e humiliations at the hands of p a r t i c u l a r people, of a l l of which he i s conscious: s e l f - i n t e r e s t e d grudges and deprivations, earthly i f you l i k e , but primar i l y 169 veal, and that i s the f i r s t thing. Only the greatest, the Hebrew Prophets, seem to be u t t e r l y caught up and possessed by God as mouthpieces; i n ordinary human poets the human personal l o s s , the private grievance and bitterness and loneliness, must be present. Even when the poet i s aware of nothing, interested i n nothing, beyond his personal f e e l i n g s , these may have, by th e i r i n t e n s i t y , a representative value, so that we envisage him, l i k e V i l l o n , not as wrapped up i n his private g r i e f s , but r e l i e v i n g them, holding nothing back, i n a passionate cry to God--and there i s , i n the end, no one else to cry to. But i n the greatest poets these private passions are completed i n a passionate b e l i e f i n objective moral values, i n a s t r i v i n g towards j u s t i c e and the l i f e of the s p i r i t among men. The central thesis i n t h i s essay, then, i s that, f i r s t , the ind i v i d u a l i s a unique s e l f , a personality, and second that he i s also a member: A man i s both an i n d i v i d u a l and a member. Instead of " i n d i v i d u a l " I s h a l l use the word "person." His personality i s unique and not to be v i o l a t e d ; but he i s equally created to be a membev of society . . . . A man i s not himself unless he i s a member; and he cannot be a member, unless he i s also something alone. Man's member-ship and h i s solitude must be taken together. I t i s w i t h i n the Church rather than w i t h i n any p o l i t i c a l system or ideology, E l i o t goes on to say, that the balance between man's i n d i v i d u a l i t y and h i s membership i s not merely recognized, but maintained. The reason f o r t h i s i s that p o l i t i c a l systems are only human and there-fore they cannot cope with the humanity of the i n d i v i d u a l . "What l i b e r a l democracy r e a l l y recognizes i s a sum, not of persons, but of ind i v i d u a l s : that i s to say, not the va r i e t y and uniqueness of persons, but the purely material individuation of the old-fashioned or Democritean atom." And t o t a l i t a r i a n systems such as fascism or communism merely dehumanize the person. I t i s only by introducing another set of terms--170 non- or super-human--that the divergent parts of human existence can be brought together. The same balance, of course, ought to e x i s t i n the a r t i s t ; and th i s i s where E l i o t ' s discussion of devotion to a cause arises. The balance i s one between the author's i n d i v i d u a l personality and h i s devotion to a philosophy or creed. Contemporary poetry, E l i o t says, i s superior to that of the l a t e nineteenth century bVeatise id'f i t s " s o c i a l earnestness," I t associates i t s e l f with causes, hence with the s o c i a l world; the poets are both individuals and members. But, E l i o t concludes, th i s i s not s u f f i c i e n t , f o r mere s o c i a l righteousness i s always i n "danger of neglecting the permanent for the t r a n s i t o r y , the personal f o r the s o c i a l . " Hence i n t h i s essay E l i o t makes his most e x p l i c i t detailed account of the relationship between the three elements which inform Ash Wednesday: the personal, the sense of human community, and the s p i r i t u a l "objective" truth. In "Literature and the Modern World" E l i o t concludes, "What i s important i s that the creation of poetry depends upon the maintenance of the person, of the person i n r e l a t i o n to other i n d i v i d u a l s , to God, and to society." And the maintenance of the person means that the poetry i s "primarily veal, and that i s the f i r s t thing." This essay comes some f i v e years a f t e r the publication of Ash Wednesday; and Ash Wednesday does not f u l f i l l e n t i r e l y a l l of the conditions proposed i n the essay. Indeed, "Literature and the Modern World" i s contemporary with the publication of "Burnt Norton" (and E l i o t 171 reprinted i t i n 1940 as the next of the Quartets was being issued) and the Quartets f u l f i l i t s conditions more f u l l y than does Ash Wednesday. However, I introduce i t here because i t provides a gloss on Ash Wednesday, p a r t i c u l a r l y because i t expands upon the two central movements w i t h i n Ash Wednesday': the development of a s i g n i f i c a n t relationship between the personal, the s o c i a l and the s p i r i t u a l ; and the progression i n point of view from the human to the divine. Ash Wednesday and the Four Quartets share t h i s kind of movement. The central difference between them i s that i n Ash Wednesday E l i o t i s s t i l l reluctant to use the e x p l i c i t l y personal experience that i s found i n the Quartets. In addition there i s an emphasis i n the essays of th i s period, as well as i n the poetry, upon the quality of the personal experience. In "Tradition and the Individual Talent" E l i o t has s a i d that what mattered i n poetry, was the intensity with which the experience--the emotion of feeling--was got into the poetry: the poet's own emotions might be crude, or f l a t without harm to the poem. Intensity, p a r t i c u l a r l y the poetic i n t e n s i t y continues, of course, to be important, but here i t i s no longer s u f f i c i e n t . To i t has been added the importance of the personal qu a l i t y of the experience. I t i s i n t h i s , more than i n anything e l s e , that the p o s i t i o n of "Tradition";and the Individual Talent" i s modified; personal emotion and fe e l i n g (as xrell as thought) are redeemed. This emphasis upon the q u a l i t y of experience i s , i n f a c t , the central motif i n Ash Wednesday. That i s , the f i r s t poem begins with a renunciation of the ordinary kind of human experience, made manifest i n the sense of loss that always accompanies human experience. The sequence then 172 progresses through a number of attempts to make experience meaningful, by moving from a renunciation of human experience toward an affirmation of the spiritual. However, a complete unification of the human and the spiritual worlds has to wait until the Four Quartets, for even at the end of Ash Wednesday there is a sense of loss that is negative, passive: Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit s t i l l Even among these rocks Our peace in His will. Eliot often criticised the humanistic point of view by attacking its expectations: i t hopes for too much on this earth. Ash Wednesday is a poem that in another sense suffers from the same sort of weakness. If this l i f e cannot bring the satisfaction of the divine, then i t must be rejected in favour of the divine. The final lines of the poem exhibit this attitude: Sister, mother And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea Suffer me not to be separated And let my cry come unto Thee. This prayer is made from renunciation, from a sense of loss, a sense that i f the human world cannot approximate the divine then the world must be renounced, and what resignation we find at the end of Ash Wednesday is chiefly one in which the persona accepts the fact that he must live in this unsatisfactory world for some time longer, and he reconciles himself to i t , praying a l l the while that he may not lose contact with the spiritual world which is his only hope. This is in contrast with the conclusion of "Little Gidding", in which the dominant motif is the 173 "return," the return to home, "to where we started," knowing the place for the f i r s t time. In Ash Wednesday human l i f e i s only useful i n preparing f o r some other l i f e ; i n the Quartets i t i s also j o y f u l , reflecting another l i f e . This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c resignation i n Ash Wednesday i s manifested i n the two central movements of the poem I mentioned above: the progression of the point of view from the human to the divine, and the relationship between the personal, the s o c i a l and the s p i r i t u a l . The f i r s t can be seen wit h i n each of the poems as a progression i n the allusions from "ordinary human poets" to "the greatest, the Hebrew Prophets, [who are] u t t e r l y caught up and possessed by God as mouthpieces." And the second i s seen i n the development of the personaVs attitude toward the figure of the lady as the sequence progresses. Each of the s i x poems i n t h i s sequence opens i n a voice that i s either e x p l i c i t l y that of the persona or that i s borrowed from some other poet. And i n each the conclusion alludes to the voice of the prophets. In the f i n a l poems these allusions to the prophetic voice become more numerous. The implication of th i s i s that the persona i s making an attempt to r i s e above (or perhaps reject) the ordinary human and a t t a i n the state i n which he i s as "a mouthpiece of God." Hence the tension which pervades Ash Wednesday. Although the use of the all u s i o n s to the prophets i s more mature and more ef f e c t i v e than i t i s i n The Waste Land, i t s t i l l operates on a simple d u a l i s t i c l e v e l , allowing for either worldly acceptance or divine acceptance. A comparison of the use made of the 174 prophetic voice in The. Waste Land and Ash Wednesday will illustrate both the development and the shortcomings of the latter poem. Tiresias, i t has been observed, only assumes the prophetic role to avoid his own involvement in the action of the poem. In the f i r s t section of the poem he assumes the guise of Ezekiel: What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow Out of this stony rubbish. Son of man, You cannot say, or guess, for you know only A heap of broken images . . . This is prophecy of condemnation; i t allows Tiresias to separate himself from the rest of the characters--from his membership. It is an example of that pride of which Eliot has continually accused modern man, for i t implies that the speaker is immune from this judgment. Again in "The Fire Sermon" Tiresias concludes in his prophetic voice: "0 Lord Thou pluckest me out." But as I suggested in the discussion of this passage, this again is a kind of escape from humanity, a conscious attempt by the narrator to separate himself from the human predicament. In Ash Wednesday, on the other hand, the tone of most of the prophetic allusions is more humble, without the implication that separates the narrator from humanity. This is noticeable in the pronoun, which in Ash Wednesday is plural and does not distinguish between the speaker and others: Teach us to care and not to care; This is the land which ye Shall divide by lot; We have our inheritance or the divine reproach from God to a people: 0 my people, what have I done unto thee? 175 This shift in emphasis indicates a sense of community that is not present in the Tiresias figure of The. Waste.Land, that sense of "member-ship" of which Eliot speaks in "Literature and the Modern World." In the end i t does succeed in being personal: And let my cry come unto Thee, but only after the membership has been firmly established. This plea is diametrically opposite the cry of Tiresias: "0 Lord thou pluckest me out," both in its serenity, and in its feeling of that humility which comes from the recognition of the common bond of limitation that unites a l l men, and is to be reiterated in Four Quartets: Our only health is the disease If we obey the dying nurse Whose constant care is not to please But to remind of our, and Adam's curse, And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse. The persona is not a judge, but a fellow sufferer. The suffering i s , of course, subject to analysis, but this analysis is undertaken in a q spirit of humility, not judgment. Thus the persona does not see himself as a "personality" in the same way that Prufrock or Gerontion or even Tiresias does. He strives to regard himself, and to create of himself, to use E. E. Duncan Jones's phrase, "not so much a personality as a will" striving after God."^ But this description too must be modified, for Ash Wednesday is not a poem of doctrine or of theology as much as one that rehearses the feeling of repentance and spiritual struggle. It i s , most importantly, 176 a poem of spiritual progression in which a person moves, a progression from rejection and loss towards resignation and acceptance. This movement is made clear by the development from "Because I do not hope to turn again" to "Although I do not hope to turn again." That Ash Wednesday is intensely personal in this sense is made clear in the f i r s t poem, in which the persona is concerned chiefly with matters of the self: Because I do not hope to turn again Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope I no longer strive to strive towards such things (Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?) Why should I mourn ^ The vanished power of the usual reign? It soon becomes clear, however, that the persona does mourn the vanished power, for he continually returns to that loss. The next stanza begins with the catalogue of things lost: Because I do not hope to know again The infirm glory of the positive hour Because I do not think Because I know I shall not know The one veritable transitory power Because I cannot drink There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again Consequently the persona makes only a gesture, rejecting only those things which are already lost: Because I know that time is always time And place is always and only place And what is actual is actual only for one time And only for one place I rejoice that things are as they are and I renounce the blessed face And renounce the voice 177 The sense of loss is even stronger than the resignation, for the persona keeps returning to this loss, which, in fact, indicates that he is s t i l l primarily concerned with his own feelings. Even though he prays, that I may forget These matters that with, myself I too much discuss Too much explain he always returns to himself: Because I do not hope to turn again Let these words answer For what is done, not to be done again. The point from which Ash Wednesday begins, in other words, is particularly personal, occasioned by the loss of personal capabilities. A number of critics have suggested that the fi r s t poem is an attempt to assert the wil l , and by that assertion to subdue an exaggerated concern for the self. Nevertheless, the resulting conflict between the sense of self-importance and the knowledge of the weakness of the self, gives to the poem a feeling of self-centeredness. The reader is forced to recognize with the persona that these matters of self are, in fact, too much discussed and too much explained. And the persona, by himself, is incapable of dismissing his sense of self-importance by an unaided act of the will: Because these wings aret-no longer wings to fly But merely fans to beat the air The air which is now thoroughly small and dry Smaller and dryer than the will Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to s i t s t i l l . He must turn outside of himself, in this poem by means of an ambiguous prayer ending with: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Pray for us now and at the hour of our death. 178 Duncan Jones suggests that the shift here from the f i r s t person to the third person pronoun is an indication of the persona's recognition of 12 the place of the Church as a remedy for his isolation. However, assuming this to be true, i t must be noted that the recognition is a vague one: and might be more accurately put by saying that here is a recognition of human limitations and of the necessity for turning somewhere outside of the self. It is at the beginning of the second poem that the turning receives concrete personification in the figure of the Lady (who i s , or becomes, a viable symbol of the "renounced face and voice" of the f i r s t poem). The introduction of the Lady at this point is of crucial importance, for i t comes immediately after the concluding supplication of the f i r s t poem, and i s , in fact, the introduction of a "personage" who will serve to contrast with the persona and provide a specific symbol for the turning away from the self. The Lady demands comparison with the third person characters of the earlier poems. In poems from "Prufrock" to The Hollow Men the characters who come into contact with the personae serve primarily two functions. They normally represent either a goal for the persona (such as the women in "Prufrock" or "those who have crossed with direct eyes"in The Hollow Men) or a personification of that which must be rejected by the persona (as the fellow tenants to Gerontion or any number of the characters in The Waste Land. And sometimes they serve both functions at once, as perhaps the Lady of "Portrait." In any case the lesser characters in these poems- serve as foils 179 against which the central characters are placed i n order to help define the narrator's character. The women i n "Prufrock," for example, serve mainly to demonstrate his fear; they are the objects he wants to possess, and his i n a b i l i t y to a t t a i n them indicates his weakness of personality. They are extensions of himself as w e l l as representatives of the order outside of himself. Consequently, they are, as he i s , personal, mainly because he sees them as personalities to be reckoned with. The view of the persona toward the other characters, then, heightens rather than diminishes his own self-importance. The characters are not important i n themselves, or even for what they represent i n the way of an external standard; they are important mainly i n the reactions and attitudes they invoke i n the central character. This use of secondary characters reaches i t s culmination i n The Waste Land, where the narrator begins, apparently, by viewing them from an objective and c r i t i c a l point of view; but as the poem progresses, we learn that the r e a l i n t erest they hold for him i s that t h e i r suffering i s also his suffering, his "foresuffering." As th i s relationship between the narrator and the other characters becomes apparent i t also becomes clear that the presence of the other characters breeds a kind of panic i n the narrator. This general tendency i s present i n most of the poetry written before 1925, and even i n "Journey of the Magi" confrontation arouses i n the central character some sort of confusion or regret or fear. AnptPbbabi'e reason, for •: t h i s i s E l i o t ' s d i s t r u s t of human relatio n s h i p s , p a r t i c u l a r l y the relationship of love. But more important i s the source 180 of this failure of relationships, which comes from the manner in which the central character views those with whom he is in contact. It is, in fact, more a failure of the individual than i t is a failure of "relation-ship" in the abstract. Relationships are weak in Eliot's poetry because men and women are weak; and the weakness stems from a too personal view of the potentials of the relationship. In Ash Wednesday there is a fundamental departure from this type of relationship. The persona does not view the Lady as a personality, and consequently as "approachable." She i s , in fact, impersonal in a way that balances the personality of the persona. His rejection of her face and voice in the f i r s t poem (she becomes the "silent sister" and the "veiled sister"), is an indication of a radical change from the earlier poems where the narrators were more apt to describe their ladies only by their voices and faces. The Lady's impersonality is different from the depersonalized automatons of the preceding poems. The typist, for example, from Part III of The Waste Land is a patent failure as a personality; she is equated with the automatic music of the gramophone. This automatic and depersonalized figure who allows only one "half formed thought" to enter her mind is an enlightening contrast to the Lady who "withdraws to contemplation" and consequently has the power to become an intermediary between the persona and the Deity. Herss is an impersonality that progresses from personal to impersonal, showing the way for the narrator. She is more than a "character," she becomes a symbol in the sense that Dante's Beatrice also becomes a symbol. 181 Another fundamental change, one that is simultaneous with this and depends upon i t , is that the Lady, the "other character" assumes an importance in the poem that is both unlike and greater than the relative unimportance of the earlier figures. The role of the Lady in this poem is, in fact, of equal importance to that of the persona. Structurally, every second poem is devoted to the Lady, the alternate ones being devoted primarily to the persona. The fi r s t poem, as we have seen, is one in which the self-examination of the persona receives primary emphasis. The second poem begins with the Lady, and is addressed primarily to her: Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper tree, and the tone of the poem becomes much more calm and assured than the previous one, and this because of the influence of the Lady: Because of the goodness of this Lady And because of her loveliness, and because She honours the Virgin in meditation, We shine with brightness. And even the song that the bones sing "to the wind" is addressed to the Lady: Lady of silences Calm and distressed Torn and most whole Rose of memory Rose of forgetfullness Exhausted and l i f e giving Worried reposeful The single Rose Is now the Garden Where a l l loves end . . . It is because the Lady is distant and unattainable (or at least so i t 182 would seem at this point) that she brings peace to the persona, and that she enables the conclusion: Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining We are glad to be scattered, we did l i t t l e good to each other, Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand, Forgetting themselves and each other, united In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity Matters This sharp contrast in tone between the fir s t two poems serves two functions. First, i t defines the radically different points of view of the two personages; the self-interest of the fir s t poem is clearly distinguished from the forgetfulness of the second. Also, i t helps to establish a sense of separation which in the succeeding poems is to be diminished, for the two subsequent "pairs" of poems, while continuing to maintain the two points of view, move closer together in tone and feeling. In the third poem is traced the progression of the persona in terms of the turnings of the stair, and in terms again of the self. The omission of the Lady from this poem suggests the private nature of the spiritual struggle through sensuality and despair; from the "devil of the stairs who wears/ The deceitful face of hope and of despair," to the vision of the "pasture scene," which brings the "Distraction" of ,rbrown hair over the mouth blown." The final realization of this personal struggle, however, is the recognition of the inability of the self to continue alone: Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind over the third stair, Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair Climbing the third stair. 183 Lord, I am not worthy Lord, I am not worthy . but speak the word only, The recognition of the persona's unworthiness (i.e. limitations) in this poem, just like the recognition of his unworthiness at the end of the fir s t poem, sets; .the scene for the reintroduction of the Lady in the fourth poem: Who walked between the violet and the violet Who walked between The various ranks of varied green Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour. The Lady in this poem is a more ambiguous figure than she was in II, but her ambiguity is used rather to suggest her ambiguous role than to conceal her identity. It suggests that the Lady i s , to borrow a phrase 13 from Philip Wheelwright, "a l i t t l e remote from casual apprehension." But her ambiguous nature has an additional function, for this poem bears the same relationship to the third poem that the second had to the firs t . In the fir s t two poems there i s , as we have seen, a statement of the relationship between the persona and the Lady. That i s , the first poem presents a picture of the tortured self-analysis of the persona, while the second gives us a picture of the calming effect that the Lady provides, as well as indicating the impersonal nature of the Lady's contemplation and loveliness. Both poems are relatively static, presenting states of being of the two central figures of Ash Wednesday*. By contrast both, the third and the fourth, poems are fluid, indicating a progression in the respective central personages. The third poem concerns the struggle of the persona up the stairs, and the fourth the 184 progression of the Lady from the "voice and face" which were rejected i n the' f i r s t poem, to the B e a t r i c e - l i k e figure which, she eventually becomes. The Lady begins by walking between the v i o l e t and the v i o l e t , and between the ranks of varied green, going i n white (the colour she wore i n the second poem) and i n blue (Mary's colour as w e l l as the colour of Larkspur.) She begins by " t a l k i n g of t r i v i a l things," but as the poem progresses she becomes s i l e n t and foregoes the t r i v i a l t a l k ; and as t h i s progression occurs she gains the power to redeem the time, and perhaps by suggestion, to redeem the persona. This development i s made clear i n the opening l i n e s ; she begins: Going i n white and blue, i n Mary' s colour, Talking of t r i v i a l things In ignorance and i n knowledge of eternal dolour. The white of her own p u r i t y and loveliness, but a p u r i t y and loveliness that i s marked by ignorance of eternal dolour, begins to merge with the blue of Mary, perhaps implying knowledge. The next l i n e s indicate her movement away from the t r i v i a l : her separation from "the others:" Who moved among the others as they walked, Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the springs Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour, Sovegna vos. [ I t a l i c s mine] As she becomes s i l e n t and .meditative, w i t h the t r i v i a l t a l k being replaced by the simple gestures of the bent head and the sign, two reactions occur. The garden god (who perhaps i s the broad-backed ; f l a u t i s t of the t h i r d poem) becomes s i l e n t , and the birds and the fountain begin to sing: 185 The silent sister veiled in white and blue Between the yews, behind the garden god, Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but spoke no word But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down and the new message is one of redemption: Redeem the time, redeem the dream The token of the word unheard, unspoken [italics mine) The redemption, nevertheless, is couched s t i l l in terms of the "thousand whispers of the Yew," Eliot's symbol for death; and of "exile," a motif which is taken up in the fifth poem. However, the Lady's role has become specific; she is a token, a symbol of the spiritual world. The development of the position of the Lady in the fourth poem from one who talks of trivial things to one who goes silent in meditation is important not only because the Lady herself is an important personage in the poem, but also because of the relationship she bears to the persona. It will be noted that the objects which create the setting for this poem--the garden, the god, the fountain, etc.--react to the Lady in a way which indicates a state of increasing spirituality. The sensual god is silenced, but the fountain springs up and the bird sings down his message of time and dream. But at the same time this development tends to separate, in an empirical sense, the Lady from the persona. This separation is a subtle one and depends upon the f i f t h poem for its f u l l realization. It comes about primarily through the repetition of the motifs of redemption; the Lady is responsible for the redemption of time and the 186 dream (or vision) as well as of the persona's poetic capability. However, in the light of the opening lines of the f i f t h poem the Lady's powers for redemption seem only temporary: If the lost word is lost, i f the spent word is spent If the unheard, unspoken Word is unspoken, unheard; This seems to suggest that the Lady prepares the way for, but does not consummate, the persona's redemption, because the growing impersonality of the Lady is somehow not finally compatible with the personality, or the consciousness, of the persona. The Lady's example is only that: an example, and i t remains for the persona to endeavor., through continued self-effort, to attain a state of blessedness. This is expressed through terms of silence, the paradox of the unspoken, unheard word. The Lady becomes silent (after talking of trivial things), and the persona is not even certain i f she will pray for him. Thus, while the Lady clearly acts as a guide for finding spiritual solace, there is an element of terror in her silence, since i t could mean that she has become so distant from the persona that she is unattainable. The result of the depersonalization of the Lady in this poem is that she becomes a symbol rather than a character to the persona. It is for this reason that the balance established in the f i r s t four poems between the persona and the Lady changes in the f i f t h and sixth poems, where there is no longer the explicit alternation of focus between "the Lady" and the " T . " - ^ By the end of the fourth poem the relationship is developed and established, and the Lady continues to be, in the last two 187 poems the v e i l e d and s i l e n t s i s t e r who may pray f o r purely human sinners: W i l l the v e i l e d s i s t e r between the slender Yew trees pray for those who offend her And are t e r r i f i e d and cannot surrender And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks In the l a s t desert between the l a s t blue rocks The desert i n the garden the garden i n the desert Of drouth, s p i t t i n g from the mouth the withered appleseed. There i s doubt here: s y n t a c t i c a l l y , the question i s whether the Lady w i l l pray; but the punctuation i s not interrogative, and consequently there i s also the suggestion that t h i s i s a supplication as w e l l as a question, asking the Lady for her prayers. And i t s tone contrasts with the prayer at the end of the s i x t h poem. This comes after two stanzas of tortured i n t e l l e c t u a l speculation, reminiscent of the f i r s t poem, which also treats the paradox of the s i l e n t word i n time and space: Where s h a l l the word be found, where w i l l the word Resound? Not here, there i s not enough silence The r i g h t time and the r i g h t place are not here No place of grace f o r those who avoid the face No time to rejo i c e f o r those who walk among noise and deny the voice. The images here r e c a l l s p e c i f i c a l l y the r e j e c t i o n i n the f i r s t poem and also the Lady's renunciation i n the fourth. The f i n a l two poems, then, include the alternate moods that are established i n the f i r s t four poems. In both, the persona begins with self-inspection, and concludes with a prayer to the Lady, or to an image of the Lady, an image which suggests (although i t does not bring) peace. In the f i f t h poem the persona speculates about where the voice, the word, can be achieved; i n the s i x t h he ruminates on the "vi s i o n s " he has seen 188 in the course of the poem, the secular vision of the garden: From the wide window towards the granite shore The white sails s t i l l f l y seaward, seaward flying Unbroken wings . . . . and the spiritual vision of the Lady: The place of solitude where three dreams cross^ Between blue rocks (i.e. between dying and birth) And in each poem the conclusion is a plea, ambiguous in the f i f t h and direct in the sixth, for the Lady to pray: Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden, Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit s t i l l Even among these rocks Sister, mother And spirit of the sea, Suffer me not to be separated And let my cry come unto Thee. This final prayer is important in several respects. It i s , f i r s t l y , a statement of "decision:" the persona begins the poem with "Although I do not hope to turn again," suggesting a different kind of resignation from that in the f i r s t poem. It is in fact a resignation rather than a rejection, and the difference between those two terms indicate the speaker's progress through the poem. Rejection is at once more definite and more tentative than resignation, for i t embodies a tension arising from the forced rejection. Resignation is more calm, more peaceful, and i t implies at least a partial acceptance of the things of this world (including one's own personality). Secondly there is a sudden shift from the third person 189 of "Teach us to sit s t i l l " to the f i r s t person of "Suffer me not to be 17 separated." Thus, the persona reasserts himself as an individual among men. In the second poem separation was accepted because i t enabled the persona to reject his worldly aspirations: We are glad to be scattered, we did l i t t l e good to each other Under a tree in the cool of the day, with the blessing of sand, Forgetting themselves and each other, united In the quiet of the desert. But although this may be a necessary part of the whole process, i t is nevertheless an escape for i t ignores the "responsibility and strain of being human," as Eliot says in "Literature and the Modern World:" For we must remember that i t is a great strain for the erect animal to persist in being erect, a physical and s t i l l more a moral strain. With or without mechanical aids or movement and noise, most people spend a good deal of their time avoid-ing the human responsibility; and we only remain human because of the continual vicarious sacrifices of a few dedicated lives. This would seem to have especial significance for Ash Wednesday; for after a l l , this is a poem about the preparation for, rather than the accomplishment of salvation, about purgation rather than salvation, and the preparation for prayer demands not extinction of the personality but the subjection of the personality to something absolute. Yet even this description is misleading, for the will toward the absolute is not really separate from the personality--in this poem or in any of Eliot's work. Both are parts of "being human" and "in ordinary human poets the human personal loss, the private grievance and bitterness and loneliness, must be present." ("Literature and the Modern Worldi.')'} 190 Thus, the concluding prayer fixes the relationship between the Lady and the persona; and i t is a relationship chiefly of separation. The Lady has moved into the spiritual plane, including in herself a l l of the spiritual figures of the poem: Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, ' spirit of the garden; while the persona has stayed firmly in the human world, "the time of tension between dying and birth." This is extremely important in Eliot's developing thought. Ash Wednesday is a poem of purgation of the human desire to be more than human, or resignation to the fact, not that we grow old (Gerontion is resigned to that), but that we are incapable, even with age, of direct apprehension of the spiritual world. The only way we can conceive of the spiritual world is in human terms (because we have no other terms to use), but when we think of the spiritual world as a human world we tend either to humanize the spiritual world or to think of the human world as spiritual.(This is essentially Hulme's argument in his "Romanticism § Classicism.' The development of the relationship between the persona and the Lady is an attempt to reconcile these two worlds without falling into either of these pitfalls. To do this Eliot employs a Beatrice-like figure who is first seen in human terms and then transformed in the course of the poem into a spiritual figure, until at the end i t is difficult to t e l l i f the plea, "And let my cry come unto Thee/1 is directed to the Lady or to God. The Lady's role in the poem is , therefore, a complex one. She must be human enough to be credible, and at the same time she must function as a 191 symbol of the spiritual world, or as E l i o t said i n his essay on Dante, as a "serious and practical means of making the spi r i t u a l v i s i b l e " (Selected Essays, p. 227). However, E l i o t i s not quite as successful as Dante i n his use of the s p i r i t u a l , beatific lady, primarily because the Lady becomes too remote. Dante's method does not quite work i n the twentieth century and i n the Four Quartets E l i o t turns to other methods by which to "make the spiritual v i s i b l e . " In this way the Lady anticipates the central recurrent motif of the Four Quartets: the "reflection" of the absolute to our limited human perception. But i f the Lady becomes a symbol of the divine, the persona remains f u l l y human. He does not lose his personality, his individuality or his humanity. The Lady loses these things, but she is not, at the end, a "real" person; she i s a symbol like the Beatrice of the Paradiso. The persona learns a lesson i n what E l i o t called "The practical sense of rea l i t i e s . . ., which i s antiromantic: not to expect more from life than i t can give or more from human beings than they can give; to look to death for what l i f e cannot give" [Selected Essays, p. 235). This leads not to a negation of the se l f , but rather to an acceptance of the personal limitations, some of which are r a c i a l and some personal. But the resignation to one's limitations i s not an end i n i t s e l f for E l i o t ; i t i s merely one important step i n finding a place i n which the human and the s p i r i t u a l may meet. For this meeting must take place on a level that i s within the capabilities of the human being, and i t i s for this 192 reason that E l i o t praises Dante most highly f o r his a b i l i t y to make the s p i r i t u a l v i s i b l e - - t o create images that made possible the percep-t i o n , on human terms, of the i n v i s i b l e : "One can f e e l only awe at the power of the master who could thus at every moment r e a l i z e the inapprehensible i n v i s u a l images" (Selected Essays , p. 228). Ash Wednesday prepares for this " r e a l i z a t i o n " by clearing away the f i n a l i l l u s i o n s about human and personal c a p a b i l i t i e s ; after t h i s the Four Quartets can construct something upon which to r e j o i c e , a pos i t i v e location of the point at which the merely human can apprehend the absolute. Ash Wednesday, then, i s not a poem of u n i f i c a t i o n , but rather of the preparation for u n i f i c a t i o n . I t concludes with the plea, "Let me not be separated." "Marina" (1930) takes up from t h i s point; i t i s the f i r s t of E l i o t ' s poems i n which the major theme i s r e u n i f i c a t i o n (and i t s referent i s Pericles, the f i r s t of Shakespeare's "Tragicomedies" i n which u n i f i c a t i o n , not ju s t of lovers, but of generations, i s dominant)) "Marina" i s central i n E l i o t ' s work for i t completes a number of images from the poetry that precedes i t , and anticipates imagery from the Quartets. For example, the image of the boat i n "Marina" culminates i n an image of promise, "the hope, the new ships," which appears after he has "resigned" his l i f e for hers. In The Waste Land Tiresias's response to the f i n a l command of the thunder also i s made i n boat imagery, but i t i s conditional, a r e j e c t i o n rather than a resignation, and i t leads to i s o l a t i o n and fragmentation: 193 Damyata: The boat responded Gaily, to the hand expert with s a i l and oar The sea was calm, your heart would have responded Gaily, when i n v i t e d , being obedient. To c o n t r o l l i n g hands. One might also point out images such as "more distant than the stars and nearer to the eye," and the song of the b i r d also r e c a l l and complete e a r l i e r images. The images a l l have some s p i r i t u a l implication i n the e a r l i e r poetry but they are generally negative. That i s they represent unsuccessful attempts to apprehend the s p i r i t u a l ; i n "Marina" they are successful, but e s s e n t i a l l y on a human l e v e l . The unity which has been sought out i n that vague area of human perfection has been completed i n an ordinary human way: not the u n i f i c a t i o n of s p i r i t and man, but rather simply of man and daughter. But, of course, i t i s not "simply" since this human, physical reunion, suggests something more--recapitulates, perhaps, a more s p i r i t u a l union. This i s the d i r e c t i o n i n which E l i o t ' s poetry moves, u n t i l i n the Four Quartets t h i s function of the human--to r e f l e c t the divine, and to catch r e f l e c t i o n s of the s p i r i t u a l - - i s made e x p l i c i t . But as always, E l i o t ' s affirmations are made ten t a t i v e l y , i n q u i r i n g l y , and with a great deal of careful d e f i n i t i o n . Thus, to l i m i t and define the central theme of resignation i n Ash Wednesday and the Ariel poems, Coriolan (1931-1932) returns to resignation i n humanistic, m a t e r i a l i s t i c terms. Coriolanus, E l i o t said on a number of occasions, i s a figure of pride (a s i n dominant i n the twentieth century). And the two poems of which Coriolan consists explore the appearance and the r e a l i t y of 194 human pride, of pinning one's hopes on l i f e and on human beings. The f i r s t of these poems "Triumphal March" (1931) concerns human appearances. The action i s seen from the s i d e l i n e s ; Coriolanus i s presented from the t h i r d person point of view. As a consequence he i s j u s t one—chief perhaps, but s t i l l one--of the long l i s t of items i n the parade. His appearance i s impersonal from an external point of view, but as we learn i n " D i f f i c u l t i e s of a Statesman" t h i s appearance i s f a l s e . This i s another of E l i o t ' s explorations into situations which are e n t i r e l y d i f f e r e n t from what they look l i k e . The eyes of the statesman seem to possess the calm which i s from peace; i n f a c t the calm comes from an e f f o r t to hide uncertainty. And the conclusion of Coviolan: 0 mother What s h a l l I cry? We demand a committee, a representative committee, a committee of investigation RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN, i s a parody of the resolution i n "Marina:" l e t me Resign my l i f e f o r t h i s l i f e , my speech f o r that unspoken, The awakened, l i p s parted, the hope, the new ships. The contrast, which i s r e a l l y a contrast of entire modes of perception and attitudes towards t h i s earthly l i f e , i s part of E l i o t ' s peculiar d i a l e c t i c , opposing points of view which look a l i k e but are d i f f e r e n t ; i t i s not used to f i n d a synthetic truth i n the c l a s s i c a l sense, but to show the f a l s i t y of one of those points of view.. Even i f Coriolanus appears to have the poet's sympathy much more than do any of the e a r l i e r subjects of E l i o t ' s irony, yet these two poems are c l e a r l y i n opposition to the Ariel poems. 195 The pride and shallow l i m i t s of perception i n Coriolan do not modify the humility of "A Song f o r Simeon" or "Marina," but rather accentuate the vir t u e of the humility i n these poems, and the resultant s p i r i t u a l "depth and height." 196 CHAPTER 5 FOOTNOTES 1 I t i s interesting to speculate--and i t can only be speculation--upon the reasons for t h i s " f a l s e s t a r t " into the drama. I t was nearly ten years before E l i o t took to drama again. Perhaps one reason for his i n a b i l i t y to carry out Sweeney Agonistes i s that he needed to f i n d his own poetic voice before he could handle with s u f f i c i e n t ease a number of "impersonal" dramatic characters at one time. 2 "On Ash Wednesday," Collected Essays (Denver: Alan Swallow, 1959). Reprinted i n Hugh Kenner (ed.), T. S. Eliot: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood C l i f f s , N.J.: Prentice H a l l , 1962), pp. 129-135. (The essay was writ t e n i n 1931 and shows some signs of i t s early date.) 3 "T. S. E l i o t , 1925-1935," Scrutiny, V (Sept., 1936), 171-176. Reprinted i n Kenner (ed.), T. S. Eliot: A Collection of C r i t i c a l Essays. 4 E l i o t ' s own l a t e r comment about The Waste Land, reported i n his wife's introduction to the facsimile manuscript, i s interesting even i f a b i t tongue i n cheek: Various c r i t i c s have done me the honour to interpret the poem i n terms of the contemporary world, have considered i t , indeed, as an important b i t of s o c i a l c r i t i c i s m . To me i t was only the r e l i e f of a personal and wholly i n s i g n i f i c a n t grouse against l i f e ; i t i s j u s t a piece of rhythmical grumbling. ^ I t i s interesting to compare Simeon's use of "house" with Gerontion's. . In f a c t , there are a number of p a r a l l e l s between these two poems which point out how much "at home" Simeon fee l s i n the world. ^ Note again the extremely close s i m i l a r i t y to Hulme, p a r t i c u l a r l y the central theses i n both "Humanism and the Religious Attitude" and "Romanticism and Classicism." 7 This, of course, i s the same s h i f t i n g of categories that exists i n the prose between "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and After Strange Gods. American Prefaces, 1:2 (November, 1935), 19-22. Reprinted i n American Prefaces, V:9 (June, 1940), 132-135. 197 g But i t i s important to remember the distinction made by Harding that unlike the earlier poems there is no sense here that the suffering i s either unjust or caused by forces (particularly social forces) outside of the person's own control or responsibility. 1 0 "Ash Wednesday " i n B. Rajan (ed.) T. S. Eliot: A Study of Ms Works by Several Hands. (London: Denis Dobson, 1947),. p.37. This definition of the persona, however, i s subject to an opposite extreme; substitution of the term " w i l l " for therterm "personality" suggests that a l l personal attributes have disappeared. This, of course, i s not the case; i t i s not, i n the context of Eliot's whole work, a compliment to c a l l his personae merely " w i l l s . " I use Jones' description chiefly because i t points to a failure of personality i n Ash Wednesday that i s redeemed i n Four Quartets. 11 Cf. the opening lines of "Gerontion:" Here I am, an old man i n a dry month, Being read to by a boy, waiting for rain. I was neither at the hot gates Nor fought i n the warm rain Nor knee deep i n the salt marsh, heaving a cutlass, Bitten by f l i e s , fought. Even i n the f i r s t poem of Ash Wednesday the attitude toward lost and missed experience i s more resigned than i t is i n "Gerontion." 12 "In keeping with this impersonality [of Ash Wednesday's persona], at i t s peaks and climaxes the poetry passes into the anonymous language of the Church'.' • "Ash Wednesday," i n B. Rajan, (ed.) ZV S. Eliot: A Study of His Work by Several Hands, p. 37. 1 3 "Eliot's Philosophical Themes," i n B. Rajan (ed.) T. S. Eliot: A Study of His Works by Several Hands, pp. 96-106. There is an important similarity here with the vision i n the rose garden i n "Burnt Norton." In both cases the vision i s a reflection or "token" of the spiritual world, an intersection of time and eternity, and i n both cases i t is a bird (a traditional symbol for divine messengers) that interprets the vision. 15 However, the f i f t h poem i s s t i l l the self-interested interrogation of the f i r s t and third, while the sixth, at least i n i t s conclusion, returns to a resigned prayer to the Lady. 198 George Williamson i n his A Reader's Guide to T. S. Eliot (New York: Noonday Press, 1953), p. 183, assigns to these three dreams the Lady, the V i r g i n and Christ. This seems to me to be quite a r b i t r a r y and probably unfounded. 17 There i s a sim i l a r change of pronoun i n "A Song f o r Simeon," from "Grant us thy peace" (which i s repeated twice) to "Grant me thy peace." CHAPTER 6 YOU ARE THE MUSIC WHILE THE MUSIC LASTS LIFE OF THE SPIRIT AMONG MEN Ash Wednesday and the A r i e l poems (particularly "Marina") taken together seem almost, though not quite, to have concluded Eliot's search for a poetic voice which could express the f u l l range of human experiences without f a l l i n g into, either romantic excesses or religious "heresies." It would seem that the Four Quartets concluded this search to Eliot's satisfaction since he l e f t them as his f i n a l major poetic work. I n i t i a l l y , the differences between the personae of Ash Wednesday and of the Four Quartets seem small, but i n several ways are as important and significant as are the differences between the narrators of The Hollow Men and Ash Wednesday . Of course, neither Ash Wednesday nor Four Quartets use a dramatic character as narrator. The personae of these poems speak with voices which are not as easily distinguishable as are those of any of the dramatic narrators.^ However, even a superficial look at the large body of commentary on Eliot's work w i l l show that c r i t i c s seem to have found i t much more d i f f i c u l t to talk about the persona of the Four Quartets than about the persona of Ash Wednesday, i n the same way that they have been more reluctant to talk confidently of the persona of Ash Wednesday 200 tfianyof any of the e a r l i e r poems, This c l e a r l y suggests one kind of increasing impersonality--in the sense that the narrators or personae of the l a s t two major poems are themselves lesser "personalities" than are the e a r l i e r narrators. As a re s u l t of the disappearance of the definable, concrete dramatic persona, the voice i n the FOUA QaaAJ:eXA> becomes more personally E l i o t ' s own. That i s , i n a poem such as "The Love Song of J. A l f r e d Prufrock" i t i s quite simple to say that the narrator i s not E l i o t because i t i s Prufrock, and Prufrock i s a character whom E l i o t invented and therefore controls. He may represent or be subject to some of the things E l i o t himself feels or he may only represent things which E l i o t has observed that those around him f e e l . Or he may represent both of these i n varying combinations (which i s probably the case). Obviously, as E l i o t ' s concerns change over the years so do the concerns of his narrators] but t h i s i s not to say that the personae share E l i o t ' s personality, only his concerns. I t i s also r e l a t i v e l y simple i n "Prufrock" to separate the study of the personality of the persona from the study of personality i t s e l f . Thus, we can speak about Prufrock himself as a personality with desires, weaknesses, etc., and we can speak quite separately about the theme of personal perception or of personal involvement i n human or s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s and relationships, a l l of which involve ( i n theppoem) the personality of 201 the central character, but none of which are i d e n t i c a l with M s personality. To put i t another way, we may say that E l i o t manipulates the weak and l i m i t e d personality of Prufrock, a created dramatic figure, i n such a way that as readers we can j o i n with E l i o t , the poet, i n analyzing how an ind i v i d u a l might respond to certain feelings i n certain situations. As the personae become less s p e c i f i c a l l y invented characters, however, i t becomes increasingly d i f f i c u l t either to say that the narrator i s separate from the poet Cor more corr e c t l y , i n exactly what ways the narrator i s separate from the poet) or to say how the theme of personal involvement can be distinguished from the personae's personalities. In Ash. Wednesday, for example> most of the s p e c i f i c things we can say about the persona also apply to E l i o t himself. Now, t h i s i s not to say that E l i o t and the persona are one and the same, but merely to say that they are d i f f i c u l t to distinguish: both are aginginfeothoare r e l i g i o u s , and both are concerned to f i n d a rel i g i o u s consolation f o r the "vanished power of the usual reign." However, there are some clues i n Ash Wednesday. that suggest that the persona i s i n fact a dramatic character. F i r s t i s the presence of another dramatic character i n the figure of the Lady. In a l l of E l i o t ' s poems i n which more than one character appears there i s no question but that a l l of the characters are actually dramatic personae. In addition, the frequent allusions to the Old Testament prophets beyond those contained i n the Mass i t s e l f evoke e a r l i e r personae such as Gerontion or the narrator of "'ifke tWasltje lhatfd. And f i n a l l y the whole 202 pattern of imagery which contains what Kenner called the "purely literary effects" of the earliest monologues again point to the presence of.a dramatic character who sees himself in a dramatic light in some tiling like the same way that Prufrock does. Besides the Lady there are a number of symbolic objects (such as the garden god) which need to be understood in the context of a dramatic character who thinks in those terms. These are symbols which are not natural objects, but literary ones, and they are essentially different from the symbols of the Four Quartets for this reason. Unlike k&k WzdneAday, the f.ovJt QaaJit&ti, do not contain most of these "clues" about how the narrator sees himself. i f i t is difficult to isolate the persona in Ash Wednesday, i t is nearly impossible to do so in the Quartets. Although there is as definite a progression of thought and feeling in these poems as there is in any of Eliot's sequences (especially The Waste Land and Ash Wednesday')^ and although there is as strong a sense of the need for and the striving after a personal salvation, yet i t is difficult to talk of the Four Quartets as containing a "character" in any real sense who undergoes this progression. In The Waste Land one can describe the narrator who begins as an observer and commentator upon the society around him and gradually becomes involved (and lost) in that society. In Ash Wednesday one can analyze the spiritual progress of the persona who begins to rid himself of personal encumbrances as he tries to achieve a state of spiritual preparedness. But in the Four Quartets one most often talks of the themes of redemption 203 or s p i r itual preparation, or of the visions, or the images, of the patterns, not of the persona. Eliot's c r i t i c s , i n fact,, have generally 2 avoided speaking of the persona of the QujaAtzt6. Even Hugh Kenner, who is very interested i n finding Eliot's "masks," admits that one character t i c of the technique of the QuaAteXA is that there is no persona i n the 3 poem: "words seem to be writing themselves." One wonders i f a good deal of this apparent confusion about Eliot's persona i n the QuoAstoJ^ arises because c r i t i c s are looking for a persona who is essentially like the personae of a l l the earlier poetry, not realizing that there is an altogether different kind of voice (or persona) operating here. It is d i f f i c u l t to speak of the persona, perhaps, because i n one sense there is no persona--no dramatic character--in the YouJi QuaAteXi. In this sense, i t seems quite possible to speak of the voice of the 4 QuucuitztA as Eliot's own. One of the most significant indications of this change in the persona can be found in the versification of the poems. When the VovJi QuajiteJA f i r s t appeared many c r i t i c s and reviewers were puzzled by the mixture of tightly formed l y r i c a l passages and what seemed to them as loose, unstructured passages. The sections that came most under attack were those such as the following from "East Coker": That was a way of putting it--not very satisfactory: A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one s t i l l with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter. It was not (to start again) what one had expected. This and most of the similar passages i n the QwxhXojtA seem to speak of matters which directly concern E l i o t the poet or 204 E l i o t the s p i r i t u a l p i l g r i m i n search of truth , and thus they convey a sense of uncertainty and reticence. This mixture of tones, however, i s used by E l i o t to create a tension s i m i l a r to that which exists between the narrator and the dramatic figure of the Lady i n ki>h Wednesday. In that poem the s p i r i t u a l t r i a l s and achievements of the narrator are measured by his relationship with and attitude towards the Lady. One re s u l t of th i s i s the creation of a dialogue i n the poem, a dialogue that operates i n a rather complicated way. On one l e v e l , i t appears that the narrator speaks and the Lady re p l i e s . But, of course, she does not reply; instead, the narrator f i r s t speaks personally, i n his own voice, and then he answers himself, speaking i n a voice he feels i s appropriate to the Lady. When using his own voice, he speaks of his doubts, fears and aspirations. When he addresses the Lady, he speaks impersonally i n terms of r e l a t i v e certainty. Thus, he manages to w i l l himself into a state of s p i r i t u a l resignation by speaking more and more i n the voice that addresses the Lady. In the tovJt Qua/LtttA, on the other hand, there i s no external dramatic character such as one finds i n the e a r l i e r poetry. But there i s nevertheless a s i m i l a r juxtaposition of poetic voices i n the poem that works i n the same way to di r e c t his narrator toward a s p i r i t u a l resolution. There are, on the one hand, the generally long-lined, loose-limbed passages which also are usually personal and often sound l i k e the tentative, uncertain musing of a man who i s s p i r i t u a l l y unresolved. 205 On the other hand, there are sections containing some of the most formally contrived verse passages that Eliot ever wrote, reminiscent of the quatrain poems from the twenties; and these sections normally assert a more certain voice. Within, the QacJvteMi the more loosely structured passages tend to call into question the certainties advanced by the more tightly constructed ones. For example, the passage quoted above--"That was a way of putting i t , . . ."--seems to question the truth of the lyric, "What is the late November doing"; and the parallel interrogatory passage at the end of "East Coker" similarly questions another tightly constructed (and rhymed) lyric, "The wounded surgeon plies the steel." Further, these contrasting kinds of verse structure represent not only different attitudes and moods, but more importantly, different states of certainty and self-esteem in the narrator. As the QuciSLt&tA progress, however, the pattern begins gradually to alter, just as does the relationship between the narrator and the Lady in A&h W&dnea&day. Thus, the lyrics, which are more formal and impersonal in "Burnt Norton" and "East Coker," begin at the end of "The Dry Salvages" and throughout "Little Gidding" to represent the more personal feelings of the narrator, as he begins to will himself into a state of spiritual acceptance and resolution. "Burnt Norton" displays most clearly the distinction between the different kinds of mood the persona suffers, and in is the most impersonal of the four QaaAtoM, in the sense that k&k W&dnzAday is 206 impersonal." In fact,. i t stands h a l f way between Ash Wednesday and the remaining three quartets both i n time and i n development of i t s persona. The poem begins and ends with the persona trying to f i n d a meaning i n ordinary, non-visionary time. That i s , there are r e a l l y two kinds of time i n his mind: the moment of the visionary experience (such as the moment i n the rose garden) which he feels i s meaningful and valuable, and the "waste sad time/ Stretching before and a f t e r " the moments of v i s i o n , which seems to him to be hollow and " r i d i c u l o u s . " The moment of the v i s i o n presents no problem to the narrator (except perhaps the problem of how to extend i t ) . But the second, ordinary kind of time does, and most of the poem (most of the four poems, i n fact) concerns rbseiMlves a good deal with the search f o r connections or relationships between the v i s i o n and ordinary existence that w i l l permit the s p i r i t u a l value of the v i s i o n to be carri e d over into one's ordinary l i f e . But i n "Burnt Norton" t h i s attempt ends without success, and the narrator concludes the summary of his v i s i o n with the judgment: Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and af t e r . This i s not very d i f f e r e n t from the conclusions of many of E l i o t ' s poems between 1927 and 1935. Compare i t with, " I should be glad of another death," or "Let thy servant depart,/ Having seen thy salvation," or "And after t h i s our e x i l e . " Thus, the narrator of "Burnt Norton" would appear to resemble the kind of persona found i n these other poems: a dramatic character who meditates upon the relationship between his mundane 207 and his s p i r i t u a l l i v e s . There i s , however, an important way i n which "Burnt Norton" does represent a s i g n i f i c a n t change from the 1927-1930 poems. This has to do with E l i o t ' s use of h i s own personal experiences i n the poem. Before "Burnt Norton" a l l personal experience was hidden i n one of two main ways. On the one hand i t could be transformed into the experience of a dramatic narrator, as Conrad Aiken t e l l s us E l i o t ' s v i s i t s to a Cambridge matron were transformed into " P o r t r a i t of a Lady," or as E l i o t himself t e l l s us happened i n "Journey of the Magi." Or, on the other hand, i t could be generalized beyond any s p e c i f i c recognition, usually by means of f i t t i n g the experience into some sort of external pattern or r i t u a l , l i k e the l i t u r g y of The Hollow Men or Ash Wednesday. But i n "Burnt Norton" E l i o t used for the f i r s t time his own personal experiences--that i s , experiences which are ind i v i d u a l and s p e c i f i c , such as the v i s i t to the formal garden at Burnt Norton and the v i s i o n there--without c l e a r l y subjecting them to one of these depersonalizing techniques. This i s not, of course, to say that he i s parading his own private experience i n "Burnt Norton," only that this private and personal experience i s introduced into the poetry without the intervention of an elaborate system of masks. While not delighting i n the revelation of his private experience, E l i o t seems to be less cautious about using i t straight-forwardly than ever before. But i t i s not i n h i s use of the v i s i t to the rose garden or even the kind of hesitant and apparently personal speculation about the v i s i t 208 that "Burnt Norton" i s c h i e f l y notable i n th i s regard, for even i f these are less impersonal uses of poetry than we f i n d elsewhere, they are s t i l l things which might belong to anyone. The most s t r i k i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of thi s poem i s the speculation on the writ i n g of poetry that begins the f i f t h section: Words s t r a i n Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, s l i p , s l i d e , perish, Decay with imprecision, w i l l not stay i n place W i l l not stay s t i l l . That t h i s meditation upon the d i f f i c u l t y of using words s l i p s into a meditation upon the word as "logos" or incarnation does not mute the personal significance of th i s passage. I f anything, i t emphasizes i t , to connect so c l o s e l y the motif of incarnation (which a f t e r a l l , i s part of the theme of r e f l e c t e d s p i r i t u a l truth) and the poet's own c r a f t , f o r i t connects the a r t and the a r t i s t with the major themes of the poem. Although there are important differences i n the use of personal experience between "Burnt Norton" and the poems written before 1935, i t i s important to remember the s i m i l a r i t i e s i n the personae that I also noted. For the differences between "Burnt Norton" and the other three Quartets are as great--in some instances greater--than are the differences between Ash Wednesday and "Burnt Norton." For example, compare the meditation on poetry I have j u s t quoted with the corresponding one from'aias^tCa0»w: So here I am, i n the middle way, having had twenty years--Twenty years l a r g e l y wasted, the years of I'entre deux guevves— 209 Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say i t . . . . This passage deals not just with poetry, but with Eliot's own writing of poetry. In the same year that Eliot published this, he delivered a lecture on Yeats in which he spends a good deal of time explaining why Yeats's later poetry is better than his earlier poetry. The chief reason Eliot gives is that Yeats continued to grow in artistic "character": that is, he was never content merely to repeat the same things he had done before. And to do this, Eliot says, Yeats had to grow as a person as well, and he had to translate his personal growth into his poetry. He then makes two statements that have especially significant application to a passage such as the one I have just quoted from "East Coker." First, he speaks of two kinds of impersonality. The first is the impersonality "which is natural to the mere skilled craftsman," and which 6 results in the occasional fine poem. The other is the impersonality "which is more and more achieved by the maturing artist," and which is "that of the poet who, out of intense and personal experience, is able to express a general truth." He then goes on to make two qualifications to this which are especially important in explaining not only Yeats's development, but also his own, in the light of the passage from "East Coker." First, he says that in translating particular and private experience into general truth, the mature artist will also retain " a l l the particularity of his experience," and then he goes on to illustrate 210 t h i s p r i n c i p l e i n Yeats's poetry. The e a r l i e s t poems, he says, are b e a u t i f u l , but only craftsman's work, because one does not f e e l present i n them the p a r t i c u l a r i t y which must provide the material for the general truth. By the time of the volume of 1904 there i s a development v i s i b l e i n a very lovely poem, 'the F o l l y of Being Comforted', and i n 'Adam's Curse'; something i s coming through, and i n beginning to speak as a p a r t i c u l a r man he i s beginning to speak for man. This i s clearer s t i l l i n the poem 'Peace', i n the 1910 volume. But i t i s not f u l l y evinced u n t i l the volume of 1914, i n the v i o l e n t and t e r r i b l e e p i s t l e dedicatory of R e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , with the great l i n e s Pardon that for a barren p a s s i o n ' s sake, Although I have oome c l o s e on forty-nine. . . . And the naming of his age i n the poem i s s i g n i f i c a n t . More than h a l f a l i f e t i m e to arrive at t h i s freedom of speech. I t i s a triumph.7 E l i o t was nearly the same age mentioned i n Yeats's poem when he wrote t h i s , and i t had been s l i g h t l y more than twenty years since he had published Prufrock and Other O b s e r v a t i o n s . (It i s reported that he had once l i k e d to say that "Prufrock" was his swan-song)) In t h i s l i g h t , these l i n e s from "East Coker" assume a special significance: So here I am, i n the middle way, having had twenty years--Twenty years l a r g e l y wasted, the years of I 'entre deux guerres— Twenty years and more to arrive at t h i s freedom of speech, and although the s p e c i f i c time--between two wars--is s t i l l s l i g h t l y masked behind the foreign language, there i s nojmistaking the application. We have here fo r the f i r s t time i n his adult l i f e E l i o t w r i t i n g a poem i n which i t seems obvious that he i s speaking of his own experience i n h i s own voice. " I t i s a triumph." 211 And i t also gives an important clue to Eliot's use of personal experience in the final three quartets. Burnt Norton was a place Eliot"-happened to visi t , and while there, he apparently had an experience that he felt was worth turning into poetry. Gradually during the next five years i t must have occurred to him that "Burnt Norton" might become the first of a series of poems using a similar pattern and similar motifs, images and themes to work out a more positive resolution for the problems introduced in "Burnt Norton." This in itself is not remarkable, or even particularly significant. What is important is that in carrying out this conception he transformed the patterns of "Burnt Norton" into a kind of personal history. East Coker, of course, has ancestral connections; The Dry Salvages is a place associated with his l i f e in the United States. And throughout these two poems Eliot explores quite openly his own personal and family past. Because of their new and explicit use of personal experience, these poems raise a general point regarding the relationship between the persona and the poet in any poem. There is a very thorough and generally convincing study of this topic in George Wright's book, q The. Poet in the. Poem'- The. PeMonaz oh Eliot, Vejxti, and Pound. Wright's treatment of the subject is rather intricate and involved, so a brief summary of the relevant concepts will have to be sufficient. Wright begins with the quite reasonable assumption that a l l poems, as ar t i f i c i a l objects, speak with the voice of a persona who is not the poet. Since every poem is more limited and controlled in its point of view than any person is, the point of view of the poet is always larger and less focussed than that of the persona of any poem--even a 212 long one. The persona is always limited both by poetic conventions and fashions and by the poet's own interests and purposes in writing the poem. Further, the poet is always present, Wright says, somewhere behind the persona, controlling him, and by means of a number of tech-niques ranging from irony to explicit Judgment, directing the reader's attitudes toward the persona and thus the poem. Thus the poet and the reader meet somewhere along a sort of a sliding scale between the persona and the poet himself, depending upon how the poet has dissociated 10 himself from his persona. Now i f we grant a l l of this, and especially note that Wright wisely avoids trying to fix that point behind the persona where one could find the poet, we might formulate for the sake of simplicity something like the following to translate Wright's generalization into a specific comment on Eliot's use of personal experience. At one end of the scale we might put the monologue, in which Eliot says to us, in effect, "look, this is my character: I have invented him as a dramatic figure to represent some idea I wish to speak about. Please do not confuse him with me." On the other end of the scale is the poem such as "East Coker," in which Eliot says, among other things, "I feel this way about jny efforts to write poetry during the last twenty or so years. I will talk to you about that because I think i t is important, but remember i t is only .myself in the role of poet I am talking about." For another point that Wright makes is that even when we think we can find the poet in his work i t is not really the poet as a man, but7 rather a pose that 213 the poet invents for us: The poet not only contrives a speaker for his poems; he also contrives for himself a personality that the reader can abstract from the poem. Some aspects of the writer are omitted, others are added, so that the idea of the poet which comes to us from the poem is often a representation not of what the poet is but of what he thinks he is or would like to be or cannot help being, (p. 28) One might add in Eliot's case, since one gets the impression that Eliot was more than fully aware of these complexities, that his pose might also be partly a representation of what Eliot thinks we need to think he is . In the context of this formulation, i t is easy to see Eliot's work sliding from one end of the scale to the other, ranging from the relative impersonality of the monologues to the relatively straight-forward expression of personal experience in "East Coker." . Of course the persona of "East Coker" speaks with the voice which Eliot wants to project, but i t is a voice which deals with such experience of his own as Eliot selects to reveal to us. In this regard, i t is interesting to note a different use of allusions in "East Coker." Eliot's typical method of borrowing from a wide variety of sources is so obvious and so well documented that i t hardly needs further illustration. But the kind of borrowing for which Eliot is so famous actually decreases in importance, •and in the Quartets i t is not nearly. «as J©bMiousa^ asi^ iti/d.s^ in^ many. of the longer works before the •Quartets. And in "East Coker" the one most obvious allusion to another writer--the borrowing from Thomas Elyot--has 214 clear personal overtones. But in the Four Quartets an unexpected kind of borrowing appears replacing the old use of allusion; Eliot begins alluding to himself. A number of commentators--Helen Gardner and Hugh Kenner, for example—have listed in some detail the parallels between earlier and later poems, but what I am talking about is something a bit different. In those sections of the final three quartets in which Eliot speaks of his own writing, and also on a number of occasions where he says things such as,"You say I am repeating/ Something I have said before," there are hints that he is speaking of his whole work, not merely of earlier passages in [thisr.poem'its. Again things like the specific reference to the twenty years largely wasted serve as most obvious examples of this, but there are others which could also point to the same thing. For instance, when he says in "The Dry Salvages" ;t I.have said before That the past experience revived in the meaning Is not the experience of one l i f e only But of many generations, he is clearly alluding to a passage in the same poem which precedes this by only three or four lines1:, also possibly to a passage from "East Coker"; And not the lifetime of one man only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered; and perhaps even to poems before the Quartets, poems such as "A Song for Simeon," The Waste Land, "Gerontion," or "Burbank with a Baedeker. . .," al l of which make specific reference to this same theme, the search for personal meaning through one's connection with history. In addition to this one finds spread out through the Quartets 215 various lines and passages which recall lines and passages from his earlier work. For instance, this passage from "East Coker" is reminis-cent of the "corridors of history" passage from "Gerontion!': We are only undeceived Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm. (The entire segment from which this comes has a number of similarities with "Gerontion.") Or there are several passages in the Quartets which echo Ash Wednesday 's phrase, "Redeem/ The time," beginning early in "Burnt Nortony'-("All time is unredeemable")1. Also, "Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind," suggests "Gerontion:" "Vacant shuttles/ Weave the wind," and "De Bailhache, Fresca, Mrs. Cammel, whirled/ Beyond the circuit of the shuddering Bear/ In fractured atoms," which in turn suggests "East Coker'.':' "Comets weep and Leonids fly/ Hunt the heavens and the plains/ Whirled in a vortex that shall bring . . . ," which itself recalls The Waste Land and "The sound of horns and motors which shall bring/ Sweeney to Mrs. Porter in the spring." Finally, there is perhaps an ironic echo of the opening of The Waste Land in the first line of "Little Gidding." What I am suggesting in tracing this allusion to his own work and the autobiographical reference found in the Four Quartets is that the extent of relatively explicit personal intrusion into the Quartets is substantial. In order to explain this further, I will return to George Wright's discussion for one more point. Wright sees an important shift in the role of the persona between the Renaissance and the Romantic period. 216 In Renaissance poetry, "The poet i s a singer. Whatever else he i s remains i r r e l e v a n t " (p. 31). With the Romantics, the t y p i c a l persona ceased to be a singer and became instead "the poet." Thus, i n the t y p i c a l l y Romantic poem "the persona goes through an experience recounting i t as he proceeds" (p. 44). In i t s extreme form, t h i s i n t r u s i o n into the poem by the poet-as-man resulted i n that q u a l i t y which E l i o t deplored so eloquently i n essays from "Tradition and the Individual Talent" to "Dante": the poet begins to regard his own experience as important because i t happened to him and he i s a poet--a public figure. "The poet assures us," i n Wright's phrase, "that the events and people already have a value that the poem merely reports" (p. 46). The manner i n which E l i o t uses his own experience i n "East Coker" and "The Dry Salvages" suggests that he had reached a compromise with the Romantics on t h i s point when he wrote these poems. (That he mentions Milton with grave respect i n " L i t t l e Gidding"--and confirms his changed opinion toward Milton i n a 1947 essay--is also s i g n i f i c a n t , since both E l i o t and George Wright point to Milton as the originator of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r romantic heresy.) In order to explain the nature of t h i s compromise, l e t us turn f o r a moment to "Ei£o;fc?s&,v comments on Dante's most e x p l i c i t l y autobiographical work, the Vita Nuova". In i' . : .r •/;-• -. Now Dante, I believe, had experiences which seemed to him of some importance; not of importance because they had happened to him and because he, Dante A l i g h i e r i , was an important person who kept the press-cutting bureaux busy; but important i n themselves; and therefore they seemed to him to have some philosophic and impersonal value. (Selected Essays, p. 233) 2 1 7 Eliot was always cautious about being regarded as an important person, and consequently he avoided talking about himself in his poetry. But gradually in the example of Dante (and others--one is again reminded of his comments on Yeats's personal references) he found that explicitly personal experience could be fruitfully used in the writing of poetry, although i t seems to have taken him a long time discovering how. Ash Wednesday represents one attempt, and a partial success. "Burnt Norton" is another, and relatively even more successful. And finally the two middle quartets make f u l l and explicit use of personal history, almost as i f to show i t could be done--to purge the need to do so before returning to the relative impersonality of "Little Gidding." A brief analysis of the progression through these different stages from Ash Wednesday to "Little Gidding" will illustrate Eliot's developing ability to make straightforward use of his own experience in his poems. I have mentioned that Ash Wednesday makes use of experiences which are so universal, general and unspecific that they could be anyone's experience. /^ dn_t&icsfc)&%tftjr$hB»iot)#e*ctMM^€M^sf|r©i6ift,t. That i s , because Eliot borrowed so much of his organizational and symbolic tech-nique for this poem from the Mass and from Dante's Divine Comedy, anything which might have seemed to be specifically personal is objectified beyond recognition. As in The Waste. Landand The Hollow Men, the myth and the formal religious liturgy in Ash Wednesday impose an order and a symbolic structure that is entirely external to the experience of the poet, and thus there results a kind of formal impersonality that separates the persona's experience from that of the poet himself. 218 Nevertheless, Ash Wednesday clearly is more "personal" than is a poem such as The Waste Land, not only because of a more personal kind of imagery, but because the Mass itself is a more personal kind of ordering structure to Eliot in 1930 than any number of anthropological studies were in 1920. The Mass is spiritual and personal, the anthropol-ogy rather more intellectual and impersonal. Likewise, the personae of the two poems can be similarly compared; the ageless, mythical seer who narrates The Waste Land has far fewer personal similarities with the poet than does the aging penitent who narrates Ash Wednesday. The persona and the symbolic and structural bases of Ash Wednesday, then, are much closer to the poet's own experience than are those of The Waste Land. Likewise, "Burnt Norton" is even more personal than is Ash Wednesday. First, and most important, is the fact that there are no externally imposed structural patterns like those of the Mass. Instead, Eliot borrows his structure from his own earlier work; as Helen Gardner 10) pointed out, he uses the pattern of The Waste Land. Second is the use of experiences which are clearly his own, such as the visit to the formal garden at Burnt Norton and the vision experienced there, along with the relatively personal speculations and introspections regarding the vision. In addition, the .meditation upon his art, even i f put formally and impersonally in "Burnt Norton," is a step from Ash Wednesday where whatever references there may be to the persona's poetic calling are hidden in obscure allusions to Shakespeare's sonnets;." There is another difference between Ash Wednesday and "Burnt 219 Norton" which has to do with the way in which the personae judge the value and quality of their moral and spiritual lives. In Ash Wednesday Eliot measures the persona's spiritual and moral behaviour against the objective standards suggested by the structure and dogma contained in the Mass and the Vlvlnt Qomndy. The Lady, in becoming a spiritual figure, riot only provides a possible intermediary to the spiritual world, but she also shows the persona how far he is from a state of beatification himself. (It is highly interesting, in fact, to note that in Ash Wednesday Eliot dwells upon those parts of the Mass which emphasize man's sinfulness and God's perfection [that is, the distance between man and God] rather than those parts which refer to salvation or Christ.) On the other hand, "Burnt Norton" lacks such formal external standards as are present in Ash Wednesday. That is, in "Burnt Norton" there are no explicitly theological or dogmatic images, such as the Lady in Ash Wednesday, which might act as moral absolutes against which to make value judgments; and even when value judgments are made or implied, they are done in primarily human, rather than religious, terms. For example, the vision in the rose garden is essentially a sensuous vision, and the language reinforces the sensuality. It is as i f Eliot, having come to terms with and absorbed the doctrines of the Church (arid of course there is no departure from the doctrines of the Church in "Burnt Norton," only from the theological images and terminology), he once again turned to human experience, only now with enough assurance both to make confident moral judgments of his own and to use his own 220 personal experience without disguising i t . However, "Burnt Norton" i s not nearly as personal--in the sense that i t treats d i r e c t l y the poet's e x p l i c i t personal experience--as are the next two quartets. The best example of t h i s i s probably those corres-ponding sections i n which E l i o t ' s c r a f t i s treated. From "Burnt Norton:" Words s t r a i n , Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, s l i p , s l i d e , perish, Decay with imprecision, w i l l not stay i n place, W i l l not stay s t i l l . And from "East Coker:" So here I am, i n the middle way, having had twenty years--Twenty years largely wasted, the years of Z'entre deux guerves— Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new s t a r t , and a dif f e r e n t kind of f a i l u r e . The passage from "East Coker" i s more personal i n every sense. Likewise, the place names also show the same progression, from a place with which E l i o t had no r e a l personal association to a place from which h i s own ancestors set o f f to America. And even the l i t e r a r y allusions one finds i n "East Coker" emphasize the personal references, instead of hiding them as i n the e a r l i e r poems. For instance, the a l l u s i o n to Dante i m p l i c i t i n the opening l i n e from section V, "So here I am, i n the middle way," i s an a l l u s i o n that c l e a r l y i s applicable to E l i o t ' s own condition at the time of w r i t i n g , and i t i s used i n the same autobiographical manner i n which Dante himself used i t . Likewise, the motto from Mary, Queen of Scots, "In my beginning i s my end," opening a poem which bears the name of an ancestral home, can only be read as a personal reference, especially 221 when shortly thereafter Eliot quotes a famous ancestor. The references to personal and family history are equally strong in "The Dry Salvages," and the tone of the poem is equally, i f not increasingly, personal: for example, "I have said before," or, "I sometimes wonder i f that is what Krishna meant." That these passages, along with "I do not know much about gods," etc., drew the wholesale condemnation of a number of early reviewers who otherwise liked Eliot's work, illustrates what a departure they really were to people used to his impersonal methods. Eliot saying things directly in something like his own voice could only be taken as Eliot being coy with his readers. But of course Eliot is not being coy with us; he is speaking with us as directly as any poet's persona will allow him to speak, and by means of this direct speaking he is giving us a clue to the thematic development of the Four Quartets, a development that on one level becomes more personal, and on another translates that personal experience into impersonal, or philosophic experience. That is, in the fi r s t three quartets the actual experiences out of which the poetry is made become Jiiore specifically personal. "Burnt Norton" concerns a chance visi t to a place where a vision occurs. The place itself possesses no personal value, but the experience does, and in an effort to find the meaning of that vision, Eliot goes to East Coker, a place with historical personal association, to search for an answer in historical terms, and "East Coker" is centrally about time. And, significantly, to work out a meaning for time, Eliot begins with 222 his own past, and works from the personal back to the philosophical: from "So here I am," to"old stones that cannot be deciphered." But there is always the return to self in the Quartets, so "East Coker" ends, as i t begins, with the motto, significantly altered: "In my end is my beginning." After this, Eliot goes to the Dry Salvages, a place with even more personal implications, embracing as i t does the poet's own youth, the "nursery bedroom." And here he continues in the effort to work out the meaning of "the vision" (the vision having become by this time not merely the moment in the rose garden, but any vision: the moment in and out of time, The distraction f i t , lost in a shaft of sunlight, The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning Or the waterfall, or music heard so deeply That i t is not heard at a l l . ) And the two major motifs--time's relation to eternity and place's relation to infinity--continue to dominate the search, although there is probably a shift in emphasis from time in "Burnt Norton" to place in "The Dry Salvages." Thus, "The Dry Salvages" begins with the specifically personal place, the childhood and later the boyhood settings. And the voyage becomes important, carrying us from the "nursery bedroom" through a l l recorded history and beyond, "towards the primitive terror" and back again to the "significant s o i l " which is "Not too far from the yew-tree." However, as this reference to the poet's own experience becomes stronger, there is a parallel movement to show that i t has "some philo-sophic and impersonal value," not because they are his experiences, but because "home is where we start from:" one must begin with what one has, 223 i n poetry as i n l i f e . Thus, as the personal experience becomes more obviously personal, there i s an increased emphasis upon the central motif of "hints and guesses." From the beginning of "Burnt Norton," of course, there i s the theme of the " r e f l e c t e d " v i s i o n . The v i s i o n i n the rose garden i s quite l i t e r a l l y a r e f l e c t i o n from a p a r t i c u l a r angle of sunlight: And the pool was f i l l e d with water out of sunlight, The surface g l i t t e r e d out of heart of l i g h t , And they were behind us, r e f l e c t e d i n the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty. For that matter, so i s the central " v i s i o n " i n " L i t t l e Gidding:" The b r i e f sun flames the i c e , on pond and ditches, In windless cold that i s the heart's heat, Reflecting i n a watery mirror A glare that i s blindness i n the early afternoon. And the r e f l e c t i o n , beyond i t s l i t e r a l explanation, i s c l e a r l y the r e f l e c t i o n of the s p i r i t u a l world i n the temporal one, of et e r n i t y i n time, of the absolute world i n the i n d i v i d u a l . But i t i s not u n t i l the personal nature of these visions (as w e l l as the personal nature of E l i o t ' s persona i n the poems) has been made amply clear that the meaning of t h i s theme of r e f l e c t i o n s i s given e x p l i c i t explanation. F i r s t there i s only the b i r d t e l l i n g the persona to leave, f o r "human-kind/ Cannot bear very much r e a l i t y , " and the persona concludes that a l l time before and a f t e r the v i s i o n i s r i d i c u l o u s , sad and wasted,; Then i n "East Coker" there i s the search through histo r y which yie l d s a perspective on human time: 224 Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment And not the lifetime of one jnan only But of old stones that cannot be deciphered. There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for evening under lamplight Here and there does not matter We must be s t i l l and s t i l l moving Into another intensity. But i t is "The Dry Salvages" which provides the largest number and the most explicit of these hints and guesses about the spiritual meaning in the visions. First: We had the experience but missed the meaning And approach to the meaning restores the experience In a different form, beyond any meaning We can assign to happiness. This goes a long way not only, to redeeming the "waste sad time/ Stretching before and after." And a l l this leads up to the final thirty-five or so lines of "The Dry Salvages:" But to apprehend The point of intersection of the timeless With time, is an occupation for the saint--For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time, The distraction f i t , . . . . . . or music heard so deeply That i t is not heard at a l l , but you are the music While the music lasts. These are only hints and guesses, Hints followed by guesses; ... The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation. Here the impossible union Of spheres of existence is actual, Here the past and future Are conquered, and reconciled. [italics mine] And finally, the reconciliation provided by the divine hints and our human guesses is a reconciliation to "The l i f e of significant s o i l . " 225 It is not, however, only in their themes that the first three Quartets become progressively more personal to Eliot. In tech-nique, too, he pares away the masks, the tricks of camouflage, and increasingly says directly and openly what he has to say. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the second section of each of these three poems. The;pattern for this section is the same in a l l three poems. First comes a relatively short lyric, introducing the theme. It is tightly controlled, taut, and spare in its use of language, tending generally toward Eliot's traditional lyric style. Following this lyric is a more loosely constructed meditation on the lyric's theme. This last half tends to begin more loosely than i t ends; specifically, i t begins as a disjointed and often relatively confused rehearsal of the theme which had been dealt with compactly, but a bit obscurely, in the opening lyrical section, and then i t begins to tighten as the narrator sorts out the ideas in his own mind. The second section of "Burnt Norton" is the clearest example of this development. This section of "Burnt Norton" opens with the lyrical poem beginning: Garlic and sapphires in the mud Clot the bedded axle-tree. The lyric then develops its theme by juxtaposing contrasting images. Although the poem asserts in several places the unity of these images those assertions are not really convincing, since they depend too much upon paradox. The garlic and the sapphires together in the mud 226 may well be "reconciled among the stars", but they nevertheless "clot the bedded axle-tree." And although "We move above the moving tree/ In light upon the figured leaf," we s t i l l "hear upon the sodden floor/ Below, the boarhound and the boar/ Pursue their pattern-as before," although they are somehow (through astrology, perhaps?) "reconciled among the stars." The poem is not really very conclusive; i t can be taken both as a serious attempt to reconcile apparently unreconcilable images, or as an ironic and perhaps cynical comment upon false, or too easy, reconciliations. And in the development of "Burnt Norton" itself, its effect is more likely to confuse than to elucidate the relation-ships between the mundane and the eternal. Consequently, the next passage opens with a series of fragments which do not seem to be related and which, significantly, are far more personal, far less formally controlled, than the opening lyric: At the s t i l l point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the s t i l l point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement. And do not call i t fixity . . . The tone here suggests the apparently difficult task' of fitting ideas together and is represented by a series of sentence fragments. It muses rather than goes forward, and where i t seems to make progress, as in "there the dance i s " (the first subject predicate construction in this passage), i t is immediately modified by another fragment: "But neither arrest nor movement," which seems to bring us and the narrator back to the beginning. 227 A f t e r a few l i n e s of t h i s kind of loose meditation upon a theme, the persona begins to deal with the topic i n terms of h i s own experience: Except f o r the point, the s t i l l point, There would be no dance, and there i s only the dance. I can only say, there ,we have been: but I cannot say where. "7' After t h i s the rest of the section attempts to bring together personal experience and impersonal formulation, r e s u l t i n g i n an uneasy mixture of deduction and induction: trying at once to f i t the experience to the idea, and to formulate the idea i n the context of the experience. As a r e s u l t , because he "cannot say, how long, for that i s to place i t i n time," he must conclude with a paradox: To be conscious i s not to be i n time But only i n time can the moment i n the rose-garden, The moment i n the arbour where the r a i n beat, The moment i n the draughty , church at smokefall, Be remembered; involved with past and future. Only through time time i s conquered. The f i f t h section of "Burnt Norton" reintroduces and further develops t h i s theme i n even more personal terms, as E l i o t writes df the c r a f t of poetry. He begins the section with the f a m i l i a r paradox: Words move, music moves Only i n time; but that which i s only l i v i n g Can only die. Words which are l i v i n g are imperfect and unsatisfactory; they suffer from the same kind of f a i l u r e to achieve the absolute patterns as does the rest of human experience: 228 Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay s t i l l . Shrieking voices Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering, Always assail them. Like anything else, poetry can only be written in time, the very time which finally prevents poetry from being made permanent. And finally, as i f this were not enough, even the Godhead himself, when made flesh, suffered the same kind of "shrieking voices"; The Word in the desert Is most attacked by voices of temptation, The crying shadow in the funeral dance, The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera. If even Christ, the Word made flesh, suffers from the ravages of time, then the last lines.of "Burnt Norton" are the only apparent conclusion: Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and after. If the final section from "Burnt Norton" hints that something is wrong with the pattern of words (and poetry is a pattern of words) itself, the second section of "East Coker" makes explicit what is the matter. This section, of course, follows in the same pattern as does the corresponding section of "Burnt Norton": a short lyric follow-ed by a longer, more loosely organized and more personal meditation upon the themes and images introduced in the f i r s t part. These images are more limited and perhaps more personal than those of "Burnt Norton", 229 but they bear a definite resemblance. They are s t i l l concerned with the place of time in the eternal scheme of things; the images s t i l l develop from relatively local to relatively cosmic, but here the prob-lem concerns quite specifically growing old. The lyric begins by asking why November is troubled with the urges that are supposed to be associated with spring. The seasons are out of order. "Late roses" are f i l l e d with "early snow," and on a more cosmic level, "Scorpion fights against the Sun," so that in the end the world is to be tor-mented with ice and fire. Actually, this lyric is much clearer, i f not better, than the corresponding lyric of "Burnt Norton," but the reaction to i t in the meditative section is even more extreme. The narrator--who by this time bears quite obvious analogical similarities to Eliot himself--begins with a disclaimer: That was a way of putting it--not very satisfactory: A paraphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion, Leaving one s t i l l with the intolerable wrestle With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter. But almost as i f he does not trust us to get his point, he reempha-sizes that he is going to have to t e l l us again what he was trying to say in the lyric: It was not (to start again) what one had expected. What was the value of the long looked forward to, Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity And the wisdom of age? The bracketed phrase "(to start again)" seems absolutely unnecessary--in fact i t is probably more confusing than helpful, for i t seems to 230 suggest that he is beginning again the passage that begins with "That was a way of putting i t , " rather than, as is actually the case, the lyric, "What is the late November doing." If he had left out, 'To start again," we would know without question that he was resaying what he said in the lyric. Apparently, the only reason to include this slightly confusing phrase is to emphasize the fact that he does not feel that the poetic form had done its job. And when i t fails he substitutes a poetic form that is so much more personal, that so ex-poses the poet, that readers for a".long time had great difficulty deciding what he was up to. It seems very unlike the Eliot of 'Tradition and the Individual Talent" of of The Waste. Land to be saying in effect, "This formal poetic form did not suffice for what e I wanted to t e l l you because i t was too impersonal; therefore I am going to have to speak more directly and more personally with you for a time." This message is continually reinforced throughout the re-mainder of the second section as well as in the third and f i f t h sections of "East Coker." In the third section we find this passage: You say I am repeating Something I have said before. I shall say i t again. Shall I say i t again? Why, in fact, does Eliot add this apparently unnecessary question? Per-haps for the same reason he adds the unnecessary bracketed phrase in section II: i t emphasizes not only the fact that the poet is forced to repeat what he has said to make i t clear, but also i t creates a sense of conversational interaction with the audience. Here, more than anywhere 231 in his poetry,Eliot throws off his poetic masks, reduces the distance between himself and his audience, and enters into a spirit of direct contact. The only alternative interpretation would involve an irony of a kind that does not f i t the seriousness and the frankness of this passage in which the phrase occurs. (The phrase introduces a process that is clearly meant to be, at least in outline, autobiographical, in the middle of a poem that is remarkably--for Eliot--autobiographical). Even more obviously, the f i f t h section of "East Coker" develops the personal implications of the realization that the formal masks of impersonal poetry do not say what El"ib;t finds i t necessary to say: So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years--Twenty years largely wasted, the years of I'entre dew guevres--Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure Because one has only learnt to get the better of words For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which One is no longer disposed to say i t . And so each venture Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate With shabby equipment always deteriorating In the general mess of imprecision of feeling, Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer By strength and submission, has already been discovered Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope To emulate--but there is no competition--There is only the fight to recover what has been lost And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss. For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business. The "shabby equipment" of poetry does not allow for complete or accurate statement of one's "undisciplined squads of emotion." Thus one has to say again what has already been said, but said incompletely. It is important that the poem in which this statement is made most explicitly is also the poem that is one of his most personal--one that 232 not only deals with family history, and indeed with personal bio-graphy, but that also introduces its theme in a personal phraseology ("In my beginning is my end") that can imply both personal implications inherent in his ancestral origins and additionally the spiritual inter-section of time and eternity which was intended by Mary Stuart: an intention that clearly invokes personal salvation. "The Dry Salvages" as a whole is in many ways the most personal of the Four Quartets. Its opening lines puzzled the critics. He was accused by reviewers."of being coy with the readers, of having a joke at the reader's expense, and even of having lost his poetic gift. On the other hand he was praised for having achieved a break-through in poetics (although even most favorable reviews were not quite::certain about the nature of the breakthrough). But however i t was received, the opening lines surprised Eliot's audience with their obvious personal history and their chatty tone: I do not know much about gods; but I think that the riverc Is a strong brown god--sullen, untamed and intractable. His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom, In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard, In the smell of grapes on the autumn table, And the evening circles in the winter gaslight. Likewise, the opening lines of the third section of the poem are more personal than the corresponding part of the first two Quartets: I sometimes wonder i f that is what Krishna meant--Among other things--or one way of putting the same thing. (Compare this with the opening of the third section of "East Coker": "0 dark dark dark. They a l l go into the dark.") 233 However, in spite of this tone in sections I and II, the ... second and fi f t h sections of "The Dry Salvages," which correspond to the personal parts of the first two Quartets, are less personal. The fifth section contains neither any singular personal pronoun nor any direct reference to the writing of poetry. And in the second section, there is only one passing reference to his own writing: I have said before That the past experience revived in the meaning Is not the experience of one l i f e only and he goes on to amplify the idea. For the fi r s t time in the Quartets he does not protest about how unsuccessful he had been at saying things before. Nevertheless, even with these differences noted, the second and f i f t h sections of "The Dry Salvages" do at least follow the pattern set up in the first two Quartets. The second section opens with a -sesYina, perhaps the most formal and complicated verse form found in the Four Quartets. This lyric is followed by a more loosely construc-ted passage that develops or rephrases the theme of the lyric, and includes the one reference mentioned above to the poet's having said something before. Like the second sections of "Burnt Norton" and "East Coker," i t gradually becomes tighter and more controlled as i t develops, and concludes calmly, though s t i l l speaking from boyhood experience: Time the destroyer is time the preserver, Like the river with its cargo of dead negroes, cows and chicken coops, The bitter apple and the bite in the apple. And the ragged rock in the restless waters, 234 Waves wash over i t , fogs conceal i t ; On a halcyon day i t is merely a monument, In navigable weather i t is always a seamark To lay a course by: but in the sombre season Or the. sudden fury, is what i t always was. Likewise, although the fifth section of "The Dry Salvages" does not make direct reference to the craft of poetry, i t does dwell on questions concerning the content, and purpose of poetry in ways that remind us of some of Eliot's prose criticism. Compare, for instance, the following passage from Eliot's essay, "Literature and the Modern World, "with section V of "The Dry Salvages": From "Literature and the Modern World": Only the greatest, the Hebrew Prophets, seem to be utterly caught up and possessed by God as mouthpieces; in ordinary human poets the human personal loss, the private grievance and bitterness and loneliness, must be present. Even when the poet is aware of nothing, interested in nothing, beyond his personal feelings, these may have, by their intensity, a representative value, so that we envisage him, like Villon, not as wrapped up in his private griefs, but relieving them, holding nothing back, in a passionate cry to God--and there is, in the end, no one else to cry to. But in the greatest poets these private passions are completed in a passionate belief in objective moral values, in a striving towards justice and the l i f e of the spirit among men.12 And From "The Dry Salvages": Men's curiosity searches past and future And clings to that dimension. But to apprehend the point of intersection of the timeless With time, is an occupation for the saint--No occupation either, but something given And taken, in a lifetime's death in love, Ardour and selflessness and self-surrender. For most of us there is only the unattended Moment, the moment in and out of time, 235 The similarity in concerns., is obvious,; but the passage from "Literature and the Modern World" illustrates clearly that the concern with the apprehension of the point of intersection of the timeless with the time is the concern of the poet as poet. The change of emphasis in "The Dry Salvages" is from poetry as craft to poetry as inspiration, or "Incarnation.". ("The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.") This shift not only develops the dual meaning of "the word" but also prepares the way for the corresponding passage of "Little Gidding" where the craft and the vision are united as "The complete consort dancing together." Thus, in "The Dry Salvages" the patterns that are esta-blished in the fi r s t two Quartets begin to turn around. In "Burnt Norton" and "East Coker" the most personal parts, the parts that appear to contain the most personal and even "confessional" passages, are generally found in the second and fi f t h sections. In "The Dry Salvages" sections one and three become more personal and sections two and five a l i t t l e less so. The general effect of this is that 'The Dry Salvages" is the most personal poem in the quartets, and perhaps the most personal that Eliot ever wrote. In theme i t is based primarily upon his own life's experience, beginning with his child-hood on the Missouri and youth in New England. In tone i t is conver-sational, reaching a level of informality that is highly unlike Eliot. "The Dry Salvages", in short, completes the process begun in "Burnt Norton", the process of throwing off masks, of shedding the super-f i c i a l layers of personality that.prevent the reconciliation of the 236 timeless and the time. The final lines of "Burnt Norton" suggest that i f there is a resolution, i t is not presently available. The pattern of salvation is movement, but so is the pattern of desire. And only in the moment of vision can the two be clearly distinguished; consequently human time becomes a "waste". However, this conclusion is untenable because i t essentially rejects ordinary human experience. "East Coker" then attempts to find the place of human experience by looking to human history, and "The Dry Salvages", tries to do the same thing by looking into one's own history. But while "East Coker" and "The Dry Salvages" attempt to justify the ordinary human time, they do not quite manage to reconcile i t with the spiritual. "The Dry Salvages" seem to me an intellectually complex poem; its intellectual difficulty contrasts with the more straightforward "Little Gidding." Likewise i t is the most immediately personal of the Quartets, which contrasts with the cooler impersonality of "Little Gidding." "The Dry Salvages," then, is personal in a way that Eliot is usually not personal: i t makes extensive and obvious use of his own personal history. Because of this i t is an important landmark in his poetry, one that i s a culmination of a great deal of prepara-tion, beginning with Ash Wednesday, but seen most clearly in "Burnt Norton" and "East Coker';" It could only come, for example, after such a "confession" that his poetry is a "Periphrastic study in a worn out poetical fashion," and that the last twenty years were "largely wasted" in trying to "get the better of words/ For the thing one no longer has to say." In "The Dry Salvages" Eliot could finally 237 talk about his own l i f e , about his childhood and youth, and do so in an argumentative and personal tone that he had not used before in his poetry (although i t appears in the prose: "I do not know much about gods; but. ..>" reminds one of "Mr. Russell is a great mathe-matician; but. . ."). Eliot seemed to find i t easier to talk about himself as poet than as an individual human, perhaps because as a poet he was always a bit of a public man. Thus he talks confidentially to us in "East Coker" about himself as poet before he speaks of him-self in "The Dry Salvages" in more personal terms. The most personal "confession" about the writer comes in "East Coker" and the personal history comes in 'The Dry Salvages." By the same token, the "word" theme is developed quite early in the Quartets. . "The Dry Salvages," then, changes the pattern of the re-lationships between the various sections of the poems; "Little Gidding" goes on to change the relationships within sections and therefore within the poem as a whole. Once again section two illustrates most clearly. In the f i r s t three Quartets, of course, section two begins with a tightly constructed, generally traditional lyric poem, followed by a loosely constructed personal meditation that develops the theme introduced in the lyric in the context of the poet's own experience. But in section two of "Little Gidding," the opening lyric is followed by another rigidly structured passage, using a variation of Dante's Terza Rima. Yet this highly formal construction carries an equally highly personal confession. The familiar compound ghost that the poet meets after the air raid is ambiguous only in the sense that we 238 cannot know just who i t represents. That i t is from Eliot's own past, however, is clear. If i t is a master, a combination of masters, i f i t is an old self or selves, or even i f i t represents his old personae (it bears a good deal of resemblance to Tiresias from The Waste Land, for example) or i f i t is none or a l l of these does not really matter. What is important is that i t speaks of the poet as a man--of Eliot himself, and in theme i t attempts to reconcile the poet with his whole past, however unchangeable or "irredeemable" ("Last season's fruit is eaten" and "last year's words belong to last year's language"). Though the i l l s of the past s t i l l weigh heavily, they can be "restored by that refining fi r e " which dominates the rest of "Little Gidding." There are two changes here from the second section of the first three Quartets. The first is the new formality of the last half of the ^ section, and the second is the new hope that is offered. This last obviously personal passage in the Quartets is thus a blend-ing of the personal with the formal, a blending that enables the poet finally to achieve that which he had praised in Dante years before, the impersonal and philosophic use of his own personal experience. The two differences blend together and prepare the way for the following sections of "Little Gidding". In the first three Quartets, the second sections consist of an impersonal passage, written in a highly controlled and generally traditional manner (a worn-out poetical fashion, Eliot calls i t ), followed by a personal meditation in a more loosely constructed form. This construction implies that the controlled form is suitable for the impersonal 239 presentation, but that anything more personal requires a looser poetic structure. By using an old poetical fashion in this section of "Little Gidding" to relate a particularly long and, indeed, "confessional" passage, Eliot calls this assumption into question. And since the poetic style he chooses is very much like Dante's Terza Rima, he re-minds us once again of the objective and impersonal uses to which Eliot himself has told us that Dante put his own personal experiences. Immediately after this alteration of an unmistakable pattern, Eliot begins the third section with this explanation of patterns: There are three conditions which often look alike Yet differ completely, flourish in the same hedgerow: Attachment to self and to things and to persons, detaclmerit From self and from things and from persons; and, growing between them, indifference... . After dismissing the third, indifference, he spends some time telling us that the patterns between attachment and detachment are essentially the same and that one leads quite naturally into the other. This is, of course, the basis upon which the final resolution of the Four Quartets rests. A l l of the images of reflection, of juxtapositons of patterns, of echoes from history, hints and guesses, and finally of the mystical vision itself, lead to this final moment in.which the reflection of eternity (which takes place in time) becomes eternity itself. Arid the practical terms within which this unification,takes form is very per-sonal: "The intersection of the timeless moment/ Is England and nowhere." And later, "love of a country/ Begins as attachment to our own field of action/ And comes to find that action of l i t t l e impor-tance/ Though never indifferent." Thus, just as the reflection of 240 eternity apprehended in time becomes eternity, so the individual personality, with its own loves and hates, its own "field of action," becomes impersonal and immortal. This immortality is achieved in the fifth section of "Little Gidding," beginning with the poetry itself: And every phrase And sentence that is right (where every word is at home, Taking its place to support the others, The word neither diffident nor ostentatious, An easy commerce of the old and the new, The common word exact without vulgarity, The formal word precise but not pedantic, The complete consort dancing together) Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, Every poem an epitaph. The final line of "Little Gidding," "And the fire and the rose are one," recalls the question that precedes the fi r s t vision of "Burnt Norton," But to what purpose/ Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves." The dust must be disturbed just as the spring roots must be stirred in The Waste Land. Mankind must be awakened physically in a l l of Eliot's poetry in order to be awakened spiritually. The physical awakening, although not an end in itself, is highly important. One might argue, in fact, that Prufrock's problem is that he is more awake spiritually than he is physically. That the physical awakening is finally transcended does not lessen its importance; there is a profound difference between staying and returning: We shall not cease from exploration And the end of a l l our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. 241 The conclusion of "Little Gidding" also recalls the con-clusion of "Burnt Norton," and in this comparison the nature of Eliot's final resolution is made even more strikingly. From "Burnt Norton" the conclusion is cynical and desperate: Quick,now, he re, now, always-Ridiculous the waste sad time Stretching before and after, But in "Little Gidding": Quick now, here, now, always--A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And a l l shall be well and Al l manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. In addition to illustrating that the journey through the Quartets has been a single-purposed one, these echoes from earlier Quartets in "Little Gidding" emphasize that the serenity of the final resolution is set in the same essentially human and personal context that exists throughout the entire Four Quartets. The tone is far less openly personal in "Little Gidding," but that fact does not reduce either the personal implications or the importance of the poet.'s own voice in the poem. Again and again in "Little Gidding" Eliot explains the process whereby the individual can remain individual and yet be transcendent. For example: This is the use of memory: For liberation--not less of love but expanding Of love beyond desire, and so liberation From the future as well as the past. . . 242 ... .See, now they vanish, The faces and places, with the self which, as i t could, loved them, To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern. Thus, when the most personal passages in "Little Gidding" are put in the most formal verse patterns (where in the first three Quartets they would have been put in the loosest) Eliot "transfigures" the personal experience quite conspicuously. Everything else in "Little Gidding" follows this pattern of transfiguration. It is rather in tone than in theme that "Little Gidding" advances the Quartets. Eliot repeats the major themes, but he alters the tone and the voice, hence the persona, of "Little Gidding." Thus, personal passages are put in formal verse, and the sections that re-tain the looser structures of the first three Quartets, deal almost exclusively with generally impersonal matters. The personal tone of the two middle poems creates a mood of struggle, of uncertainty, of doubt and argument. The mood of "Little Gidding" is a calm one, its dominant note is confidence: A l l shall be well, and A l l manner of thing shall be well By the purification of the motive In the ground of our beseeching. This is not a cheap victory, of course, for i t implies the other theme of the return home after the arduous journey to self-knowledge. And the terms in which Eliot states this theme of self-knowledge are per-sonal, referring back and evoking images from the two middle poems: 243 And any action Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea's throat Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start. In "Little Gidding," then, Eliot returns to. a kind of im-personal distant poetry that is in some ways reminiscent of the earlier poetry, but especially of Ash Wednesday and "Burnt Norton." But there is an important difference, a difference which shows the results of the personal investigation in "East Coker" and "The Dry Salvages." The impersonality of "Little Gidding" is not an impersonality of escape; i t is one of transformation. In an analogical sense, what happens to the persona in "Little Gidding" is something like what happens to the lady in Ash Wednesday. In fact, the image with which "Little Gidding" concludes is an image reminiscent of the image Dante used in describing the sanctified Beatrice of Pavadiso, the "crowned knot of fire," only for Eliot i t does not apply to a beatific figure, but rather to the resolution that occurs in the persona himself. In a sense, then, the theme and the method of "Little Gidding" are truly united in a manner that is much more complete and successful than in the earlier poems. For the persona talks about the relation-ship of place and time to infinity and eternity as he himself is "transformed" into another pattern, a pattern in which the personality is comfortably at home with itself in an easy commerce with the ab-solute world of spiritual values. People thus become both real and important in this poem; there is no scorn or sense of threat: and they become important because there is a new sense of the importance 244 of "the self which, as i t could, loved them." One i s reminded of the passage quoted above from the essay "Literature and the Modern World": in ordinary human poets the human personal loss, the private grievance and bitterness and loneliness must be present. . .But i n the greatest poets these private visions are completed in a passionate belief in objective moral values, i n a striving towards justice and the l i f e of the s p i r i t among men. One can only assume that " L i t t l e Gidding" i s Eliot's last major poem because he f e l t that i t achieved something like this state. Passionate belief in objective moral values had existed side by side with the private bitterness and loneliness in Eliot's poetry almost from the beginning, but they did not "complete" each other; they fought and in many cases cancelled each other. " L i t t l e Gidding" (and thus, the Four Quartets') f i n a l l y achieve the l i f e of the s p i r i t among men, and this i s a personal triumph for E l i o t of the greatest magnitude. This resolution to " L i t t l e Gidding" brings together two aspects of Eliot's personae which I have treated separately in this thesis: F i r s t , the relationship between E l i o t himself and his personae, and second, Eliot's treatment of personality as a poetic theme. This resolution i s the culmination of a process of the w i l l which begins i n "Prufrock." In "Prufrock," "Gerontion," The Waste' Land and The Hollow Men the per-sonae display conspicuous absence of w i l l , an absence that i s heightened by.setting the personae against heroic mythological or legendary figures. 245 P r u f r o c k compares h i m s e l f w i t h J o h n t h e B a p t i s t and H a m l e t , G e r o n t i o n c o n f e s s e s t h a t he h a s n o t f o u g h t " k n e e deep i n t h e s o f t m a r s h j ' . . t h e r e b y c o n t r a s t i n g h i m s e l f w i t h t h o s e who h a v e . The n a r r a t o r o f The Waste Land i s j u x t a p o s e d w i t h a number o f r e l i g i o u s and s e c u l a r h e r o e s . A n d t h e h o l l o w men r e c a l l w i s t f u l l y ' T h o s e who h a v e c r o s s e d / W i t h d i r e c t e y e s , t o d e a t h ' s o t h e r k i n g d o m . " T h e s e e a r l y p e r s o n a e a l l l a c k t h e w i l l t o s e e t h e i d e a t h r o u g h t o t h e r e a l i t y , b e c a u s e u n l i k e t h e l e g e n d a r y h e r o e s w i t h w h i c h t h e y a r e c o n t r a s t e d t h e y p o s s e s s t h e w r o n g k i n d o f s e l f - i m p o r t a n c e . The p e r s o n a l i t i e s o f a l l t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s a r e b u i l t f r o m s e l f - p i t y , t h o s e o f t h e h e r o e s f r o m s e l f - w o r t h . P r u f r o c k and J o h n t h e B a p t i s t b o t h r e g a r d t h e m s e l v e s a s i m p o r t a n t p e r s o n a l l y , b u t P r u f r o c k l a c k s t h e f u r t h e r v i s i o n t h a t J o h n c l e a r l y p o s s e s s e d . In Ash Wednesday, t h e p e r s o n a b e g i n s t o d i s c o v e r t h e w i l l t o r e s i g n h i m s e l f t o t h e t h i n g s w h i c h t r o u b l e t h e e a r l i e r p e r s o n a e . L i k e G e r o n t i o n , he c a n n o t r e c a p t u r e t h e p a s t , b u t u n l i k e G e r o n t i o n , h e c a n r e s i g n h i m s e l f m e a n i n g f u l l y t o h i s p r e s e n t c o n d i t i o n . Thus he g a i n s a s p i r i t u a l v i c t o r y t h a t i s b e y o n d t h e r e a c h o f t h e e a r l i e r p e r s o n a e . I n " B u r n t N o r t o n " E l i o t t r i e s s o m e t h i n g more a m b i t i o u s ; he t r i e s t o u s e t h e w i l l n o t m e r e l y t o r e c o n c i l e t h e s e l f t o i t s l o s s e s , b u t r a t h e r t o d i s c o v e r f o r t h e s e l f a p o s i t i v e s e t o f human v a l u e s , t o f i n d i n t h e n o r m a l w o r l d and i n n o r m a l l i f e a n i n t e n s i t y e q u i v a l e n t t o t h e i n t e n s i t y o f s p i r i t u a l v i s i o n . He i s u n s u c c e s s f u l i n t h e e n d , and h a s t o r e s i g n h i m s e l f t o t h e r e c o g n i t i o n t h a t n o r m a l t i m e i s o n l y " w a s t e s a d t i m e , " b u t i n e v e n h a v i n g t r i e d he h a s c r e a t e d a more am-b i t i o u s and h e r o i c p e r s o n a a n d t h u s h a s d e v e l o p e d a c o n t e x t i n w h i c h t h e b r i n g i n g t o g e t h e r o f s p i r i t u a l i n t e n s i t y a n d w o r l d l y l i f e ( t i m e a n d e t e r n i t y ) c a n be f i n a l l y a c h i e v e d . 246 This progression in the use of the w i l l i s a part of a larger process of change i n Eliot's poetry: the recognition of the importance of the human personality i n spi r i t u a l l i f e . Between Prufrock and the narrator of the Four Quartets there i s a complete transformation of personality. But such a transformation would not i t s e l f be possible without a corresponding transformation in the relationship between poet and persona. In a recent article entitled "Prufrock and After: the Theme of Change," Elisabeth Schneider touches upon this develop-ment in her treatment of a process i n Eliot's poetry she calls "subjective change-" Miss Schneider suggests thatithe major poems trace the struggle of transforming "wish into w i l l , w i l l into belief and then dedication." And although she judiciously refrains from basing her argument on autobiographical elements in Eliot's poetry, she stresses continually that the concern about the possiblity of subjective change which absorbs Eliot's major personae, was shared by El i o t himself. For example, she suggests that Prufrock i s speaking for Elio t when he asks about his own chances for changing. She explains the relationship be-tween poet and persona this way: The poem, I need hardly say, is not in a l i t e r a l sense autobiographical: for one thing, though i t i s clear that Prufrock w i l l never marry, the poem was published i n the year of Eliot's own f i r s t marriage. Nevertheless, friends who knew the young E l i o t almost a l l describe him, retro-spectively but convincingly, i n Prufrockian terms; and Eli o t himself once said of dramatic monologue in general that what we normally hear i n i t " i s the voice of the poet, who has put on the costume and make-up either of some historical character, or of one out of f i c t i o n . As such a.:statement can be made only with considerable straining about Browning, who was his ostensible example i n the passage where this sentence occurs, I suppose i t to be one of the many indirect clues to his own poetry planted with evident deliberation throughout his prose." ^ 247 "Prufrock was E l i o t , " Miss Schneider concludes, "though E l i o t was much more than Prufrock." Put another way, E l i o t undoubtedly recog-nized something of Prufrock in his own character, but he clearly also saw more clearly than does Prufrock the nature of his essential weakness of character; thus the social satire which delighted Eliot's contemporaries. Taken by i t s e l f , however, the cause of Prufrock's failure can arise from any number of causes. Prufrock can be seen as a weak character of the type that a corrupt or decadent urban society pro-duces or as a character who represents a humanity that i s genetically incapable of significant action. However, E l i o t clearly dissociated himself from those who interpreted his early work in these cynical directions; what they saw, he later said, was their d i s i l l u s i o n at being disillusioned. However, one would not know this merely from readingtoPrufrock." The point i s that E l i o t himself doesn't lay down any specific ways in which he i s different from or superior to Prufrock. One can, as does Elisabeth Schneider, point to different kinds or 'levels' of symbolism which serve to suggest differences in aware-ness between Prufrock and E l i o t . Or one can, as I did in the chapter on that poem, show that E l i o t leads Prufrock into the kind of moral dilemmas which can later, i f one travels in Eliot's direction, lead to a conviction of religious r e a l i t i e s . Or one can, as Hugh Kenner does, emphasize those aspects of Prufrock's character which are least specific, and conclude that Prufrock is not a real character 248 at a l l , but merely a ' l i t e r a r y effect,' by which E l i o t can c r i t i c i z e his world. In any case, whichever approach one chooses, one i s hard pressed to describe exactly i n which ways or i n fact to what extent E l i o t feels himself superior to Prufrock. Clearly, E l i o t as w r i t e r i s c l e a r l y to be set above Prufrock as character. However, the moral superiority E l i o t asserts i s , i n f a c t , a p a r t i c u l a r l y vague one; one that has best been characterized as "there but for the 14 grace of God, go I . " I f the poem asserts one s p e c i f i c theme with any certainty, i t i s that meaningful change i n one's own l i f e i s p a r t i c u l a r l y d i f f i c u l t . But of course, even Prufrock knows that. Thus, E l i o t ' s separation from h i s dramatic persona i n t h i s e a r l i e s t major poem (the same i s e s s e n t i a l l y true f o r "Gerontion") i s that E l i o t i s capable of p i t y i n g and of s a t i r i z i n g Prufrock, and to p i t y and to s a t i r i z e both suggest a superiority .which i s asserted but not proved. This i s not to suggest that the poem i s a contest between the poet and the dramatic character, but when Prufrock i s compared with the narrator of "Burnt Norton" a number of interesting and important points emerge. F i r s t of a l l , there i s at least one very important simi-l a r i t y between the two poems. Both narrators attempt and f a i l to achieve some sort of personal transformation: Prufrock i n his a b i l i t y to form meaningful sexual relationships and the narrator of "Burnt Norton'.' to sustain the s p i r i t u a l i n t e n s i t y of a mystical v i s i o n . Nevertheless, the narrator of "Burnt Norton" i s c l e a r l y greater i n his f a i l u r e than Prufrock i s i n h i s . The reasons f o r t h i s greater 249 stature il l u s t r a t e the primary ways in which Eliot's attitude toward the human personality and toward his own poetic personae has changed. The f i r s t and most obvious reason for the later persona's greatness i s that he tries a greater change, and tries i t more seriously. Consequently both the poet and the reader have to take the character more seriously. His failure to change i s not from want of sincere effort, nor i s i t quite as f i n a l as i s Prufrock's. "Burnt Norton," therefore, i s a much more profound record of human weakness than i s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Secondly, Eliot's attitude toward his persona is quite completely changed in "Burnt Norton." In Prufrock, E l i o t either scorns or pities his dramatic character i n such a way that he as poet (and we as readers) are assured a moral superiority over the f i c t i o n a l character. We can say that, yes, we know people like that (and aren't we glad we are not among their number ). In. "Burnt Norton," as i n a l l his later poems, El i o t makes i t much more d i f f i c u l t to assume that kind of easy automatic superiority. The difference in Eliot's attitude toward his personae in these two poems, then, i s not dependent upon the difference between the personae's success and failure as is often assumed. The difference i s that in "Burnt Norton" El i o t as poet appears to be showing his readers what i n his social and moral criticism he often t e l l s us: It is d i f f i c u l t to gain even small victories i n l i v i n g ; let us be glad when they are won and disappointed when they are not. E l i o t invites us to mock Prufrock for presuming that he is capable of changing his own personality. In! 250 "Burnt Norton;," on the other hand,we are painstakingly prevented by E l i o t from mocking the narrator f o r h i s i n a b i l i t y either to sustain his v i s i o n or to change enough to make that v i s i o n meaningful i n his non-visionary, mundane l i f e . F i n a l l y , "Burnt Norton" marks a turning point i n E l i o t ' s own working out of this whole question of the individual's capacity to save himself (which i s r e a l l y another way of saying the i n d i v i -dual's capacity to effect subjective change i n himself). Ash Wednesday, of course, had shown a character who was able to e f f e c t some change, however modest, i n himself, but that change takes place with the help of the Lady. Thus, the unspecta-cular nature of the persona's development (more a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n than a change), coupled with the fact that his r e c o n c i l i a t i o n i s not t o t a l l y self-accomplished, modifies the significance of the persona's f i n a l resolution. This does not take away from the d i f f i c u l t i e s the persona encounters i n coming to his f i n a l p o s i t i o n , nor does i t b e l i t t l e the s p i r i t u a l theme that E l i o t presents. I t does, however, i l l u s t r a t e once more the depth of E l i o t ' s conviction that an i n d i v i d u a l cannot by himself make spectacular changes i n his own personality. (Miss Schneider sees E l i o t ' s l a t e r poetry as an apology for not believing as wholeheartedly i n his own Christian devotion as he claimed i n his prose writings. I t might be f a i r e r to E l i o t to phrase i t d i f f e r e n t l y and say that t h i s poetry i l l u s -trates the d i f f i c u l t y of believing wholeheartedly these convictions.) 251 In light of this, "Burnt Norton" assumes a particularly important position in Eliot's canon, for in "Burnt Norton," Eliot for the first time dares to let a narrator whan is not clearly separated from him not only try, but f a i l in his attempt, to find a spiritual meaning for his l i f e without such outside guidance as the lady of Ash Wednesday offers. The narrator in this poem, and later in the rest of the Quartets, concerns himself with trying to find a way to make the spiritual vision give a meaning to the rest of his l i f e . That he fails in "Burnt Norton" is really a mark of success in Eliot's poetry, for the act of presenting that kind of failure without the use of a complicated mask to hide himself is for Eliot, the poet, and the man, a personal triumph. In many ways, of course, i t -seems that the 1935 Collected Poems is a far less hopeful book than the 1962 version, which contains the final three Quartets, but "Burnt Norton" is not a totally unsuitable poem with which to conclude a major segment of Eliot's work, for i t suggests that finally the poet is able to deal straightforwardly with the sense of personal failure. And while Eliot finally (but not for five years after "Burnt Norton") was able to complete the final step in working through the remaining Quartets, that final step turns out to be not any greater than the one that leads to "Burnt Norton" and certainly depends upon the willingness, first shown in "Burnt Norton," to admit that although one cannot will oneself into the kind of spiritual state one wishes, having to rely on some sort of divine grace, the will is nevertheless necessary. And for the will to be effective, the individual must be 252 willing to expose his own spiritual anguish to the scrutiny of others, not because one is himself important, but because in any man that spiritual struggle is important. Miss Schneider observes that "Prufrock could not have become a poet of stature"; neither could he ever achieve the final resolution Eliot achieves in "Little Gidding." If Prufrock cannot be saved because he is only a part of Eliot, then Eliot cannot be saved wearing Prufrock's (or anybody's) mask. This, then, is the final triumph of the Four Quartets: 'the straightforward acceptance and use of one's own personality in the poetry, not because one is an important public figure,.and particu-larly not because one is seeking either sympathy or praise, but be-cause [like the public confession in the Mass) one must finally assume responsibility for one's own l i f e . Eliot was undoubtedly thinking of himself as well when he said of Yeats' poetry written in middle age: Most men either cling to the experiences of youth, so that their writing becomes an insincere mimicry of their earlier work, or they leave their passion behind, and write only from the head, with a hollow and wasted virtuosity. There is another and even worse temptation: that of becoming dignified, of becoming public figures with only a public existence - coat racks hung with decorations and distinctions, doing, saying and even thinking and feeling only what they believe the public expects of them.15 It is this danger of being a dignified public man that Eliot seems to have felt his own greatest threat - the danger of becoming the elder statesman (and that is only another mask). Eliot saw that the greatest temptation was neither insincere emotion nor sterile rationality, but rather the temptation to assume another 253 role, to wear another mask. And at the time he was writing this he was also engaged in writing the final three poems of the Four Quartets, a work which deserves as surely as any of Yeats' work to be described in Eliot's own words: There are two forms of impersonality: that which is natural to the mere skilful craftsman, and that which is more and more achieved by the maturing artist. The first is that of what I have called the 'anthology piece', of a lyric by Lovelace or Suckling, or of Campion, a finer poet than either. The second impersonality, is that of the poet who, out of intense and personal experience, is able to express a general truth; retaining a l l the particularity of his experience, to make of i t a general symbol. And the strange thing is that Yeats, having been a great craftsman in the first kind, became a great poet in the second. It is not that he became a different man, for, as I have hinted, one feels sure that the intense experience of youth had been lived through--and indeed, without his early experience he could never have attained anything of the wisdom which appears in his later writing. But he had to wait for a later maturity to find expression of early experience; and this makes him, I think, a unique and especially interesting poet.16 Although in not quite the same way, Eliot too had to wait until the Four Quartets to find the capacity to trust his own voice in his poetry and finally to achieve that faith in human personality which made possible such directness. 254 CHAPTER 6 FOOTNOTES 1 * It is not unusual, for instance, to find a student who carefully avoids confusing Eliot with his other narrators, but speaks of the persona of these two poems as "Eliot." 2 A notable exception is George Wright in The. Poet -in the Poem: The. PeAAonae. oi Etlot, Seatb, and Pound (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1960). However, Wright does not distinguish even between the personae of The Waste. Land and the TouA QuaAteJx. The only distinction he feels i t necessary to make for his purposes is between the "earlier and the later personae" and he fixes 1920 as the line of division between the two periods. 3 The Invisible Poet, p. 250. 4 Of course, one must qualify this kind of statement with the rider that technically every poem uses a persona, no matter how personal or autobiographical i t is; I will take up this question again later in the chapter. ^ That "Burnt Norton" was published as the terminal poem of the Cottecuted Poem*: 7909-7935 suggests that i t might easily be treated separately as well as with the rest of the QuaAteXs. Most of the evidence available would seem to suggest that when he published i t , Eliot did not yet intend to write the companion poems. ^ One is reminded of "A Note on War Poetry": It seems just possible that a poem might happen To a very young man: but a poem is not poetry--That is a l i f e . 7 On Voztny and Poets, p. 299. g "In the middle way" is a pun with a number of implications, of course, but most of the most obvious, ones are clearly personal: middle age, the middle part of a career, even the middle of the poem. q I am using chiefly the first 60 pages which are devoted to a general historical and technical discussion of the topic. The chapter on Eliot in Wright's book does not pursue the topic in the same direction as I do here. 255 FOOTNOTES CHAPTER 6 (continued) For.this l a s t part I am, of course, borrowing the concepts and the analogy /from: Wayne C. Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction (Chicago: Univ. of'Chicago Press, 1961). J- l trj^ g F o u r Quavtets: A Commentary," i n B. Rajan (ed.), T.S. Eliot: A Study of His Writings by Several Hands (London: Denis Dobson, 1947) pp. 57-77. This a r t i c l e was revised and re-printed as Chapter I I of The Art of T.S. Eliot (New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1959). 12 American Prefaces, 1:2 (Nov., 1935), 19-22. I t i s interesting to note that t h i s essay was f i r s t published i n the year "Burnt Norton" was f i r s t published, and then republished i n 1940 as "East Coker" appeared and when E l i o t must have been plan-ning the whole of Four Quartets . 13 Elisabeth Schneider, "Prufrock and After: The Theme of Change," PMLA, (October, 1972), 1103-1105. 14 As noted i n Ch. 5, Alan Tate uses t h i s phrase to explain the transformation; see "On Ash Wednesday," i n Tate's Collected Essays (Denver : Alan Swallow, 1959). 1 5 "Yeats," i n E l i o t , On Poetry and Poets (New York: The Noonday Press, 1957) pp. 301,302. 1 6 ibid., p. 299. 256 Selected Bibliography This bibliography i s divided into two main sections: works by E l i o t and works about E l i o t . The f i r s t section i s further divided into poetry and prose, and the works are l i s t e d chronologically as they appeared i n p r i n t . Individual a r t i c l e s have been l i s t e d only when they have not been reprinted i n one of the standard c o l l e c t i o n s . In the Second section, no attempt has been made to distinguish between works which are central to the thesis and those which are only peripheral. Instead a l l those works consulted which have any bearing, however small, upon topics dealt with i n the thesis have been included. I E l i o t ' s Poems and Prose A) Poems Prufrock and Other Observations. London: Egoist, 1917. Poems. London: Hogarth Press, 1919. Ara Vos Prec.K London: Ovid, 1920. The Waste Land. New York: Boni and Live r i g h t , 1922. (Reprinted with notes from The Criterion 1, i iOct., 1922]: 50-64, and The Dial 73, v.LNov., 1922]: 473-85) Poems 1909-1925, London: Faber, 1925. Journey of the Magi. London: Faber, 1927. ( A r i e l Poems no.'8'j) A Song for Simeon. London: Faber, 1928. ( A r i e l Poems no. 16.) 257 Marina. London: Faber, 1930. ( A r i e l Poems no. 29.) Triumphal March. London: Faber, 1930. ( A r i e l Poems no. 35.) Ash Wednesday. New York: Fountain;and London: Faber, 1930. Collected Poems 1909-1935. London: Faber; and New York: Harcourt, 1936. East Coker. London: Faber, 1940. Burnt Norton. London: Faber, 1941. The Dry Salvages. London: Faber, 1941. Little Gidding. London: Faber, 1942. Four Quartets. New York: Harcourt, 1943; London: Faber, 1944. The Complete Poems and Plays, 190.9-1950. New York: Harcourt, 1954. Collected Poems, 1909-1962. London: Faber, 1963. Poems Written in Early Youth, collected by John Hayward. London: Faber, 1967. The Waste Land: A facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound. Ed. Valerie E l i o t . New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1971. Prose The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism. London: Methuen, 1920; New York; Barnes and Noble (7th ed.), 1950. 258 Homage to John Dryden: Three Essays on Poetry of the Seventeenth Century. London: Hogarth, 1924. For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on Style and Order. London: Faber, 1928. "Introduction" to Selected Poems of Ezra Pound. London: Faber, 1928. Dante. London: Faber, 1929. Anabasis,, by St. John Perse, with English t r a n s l a t i o n by T.S. E l i o t . London: Faber, 1930. "Donne i n Our Time," A Garland for John Donne, ed. Theodore Spencer. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1931, pp. 1-19. Selected Essays, 1917-1932. London: Faber, 1932. The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism: Studies in the Relations of Criticism to Poetry in England. London: Faber, 1933. After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy. London: Faber, 1934. Elizabethan Essays. London: Faber, 1934. "Literature i n the Modem World." American Prefaces 1, i i (1935): 19-22. Reprinted i n American Prefaces 5, i x (1940): 132-35. Essays Ancient and Modern.. London: Faber, 1936. The Idea of a Christian Society. London: Faber, 1939. Notes towards the Definition of Culture. London: Faber, 1948. 259 Selected Essays. London: Faber 1951. Selected Prose, ed. John Hayward. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1953. On Poetry and Poets. London: Faber; and New York: Farrar Straus, 1957. .Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F.H. Bradley.-London: Faber, 1964. To Criticise the Critic: Eight Essays on Literature and Education. London: Faber; New York: Farrar, Straus, 1965. II Secondary Sources Abrams, M.H. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition. New York: Norton, 1958. Adams, Robert M. "Donne and Eliot: Metaphysicals." Kenyon Review 16 (1954): 278-291. Aiken, Conrad. Scepticisms. New York: Knopf, 1919. Aldington, Richard. "The Poetry of T.S. Eliot," Literary Studies and Reviews. New York: Dial Press, 1924, pp. 181-91. Allan, Mowbray. T.S. Eliot's Impersonal Theory of Poetry. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell Univ. Press, 1974. Alvarez, A. "Eliot and Yeats: Orthodoxy and Tradition." Twentieth Century 162 (1957): 149-163, 224-234. 260 Andreach, Robert J . "Paradise Lost and the Christian Configuration of The WasteLand." Papers on Language and Literature 5 (1969): 296-309. Adreach, Robert Joseph. Studies in Structure: The Stages of the Spiritual Life of Four Modern Authors. New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 1964. Arden, Eugene. "The 'Other' Lazarus in 'Prufrock'." Notes and Queries 7 (1960): 33,40. Austin, Allen. T.S. Eliot: The Literary and Social Criticism. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1971. Austin, Allen. "T.S. Eliot's Objective Correlative." Univ. of Kansas City Review 26 (1960): 133-140. Austin, Allen. "T.S. Eliot's Quandary/' Univ. of Kansas City Review 27 (I960): 143-148. Austin, Allen. "T.S. Eliot's Theory of Dissociation." College English 23 (1962), 309-312. Austin, Allen. "T.S. Eliot's Theory of Personal Ex-presssion." PMLA 81 (1966): 303-07. Baker, John Ross. "Eliot's The Waste Land, 77-93." Explicator 14 (1956): item 27. Barnes, W.J. "T.S. E l i o t ' s 'Marina': Image and Symbol." 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Wisconsin Studies in Literature 6 (1969): 58-71. Craig, David. "The Defeatism of The Waste Land." Critical Quarterly 2 (1960): 241-52. Cronin, Francis C. "T.S. Eliot's Theory of Literary Creation." Dissertation Abstracts 28 (1967): 1391 A. Cross, Gustav. "A Note on The Waste Land." Notes and Queries 6 (1959): 286-87. Daiches, David, Poetry and the Modern World. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1940. Daniells, J.R. "T.S. Eliot and His Relation to T.E. Hulme." Univ. of Toronto Quarterly 2 (1933): 380-96. Davie, Donald. "T.S. Eliot: The End of an Era." Twentieth Century 159 (1956): 350-362. Davis, Jack L. "Transcendental Vision in 'The Dry Salvages'." Emerson Society Quarterly 62 (1971): 38-44. Day, Robert, A. "The 'City Man' in The Waste Land: The Geography of Reminiscence." PMLA 80 (1965): 285-291. De Masirevich, Constance. On the Four Quartets of T.S. Eliot. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1965. Dolan, Paul, J. "Ash Wednesday: A Catechumenical Poem." Renascence 19 (1967): 198-207. Dolon, Paul, J. "Eliot's Marina: A Reading." Renascence 21 (1969): 203-06, 222. Donoghue, Denis. "T.S. Eliot's Quartets: A New Reading." Studies 54 (1965): 41-62. Drew, Arnold P. "Hints and Guesses in Four Quartets." Univ. of Kansas City Review 20 (1954): 171-75. Drew, Elizabeth. T.S. Eliot, The Design of His Poetry. New York: Scribner's, 1949. Duffy, John J. "T.S. Eliot's Objective Correlative: A New England Commonplace." New England Quarterly 42 (1969): 108-15. 268 Dunn, Ian S. " E l i o t ' s 'The Love Song of J . A l f r e d Prufrock"." Explicator 22 (1963): item 1. Dwyer, Daniel N. " E l i o t ' s Ash Wednesday, IV, 1-4" Explicator 9 (1950): item 5. Dwyer, Daniel N., S.J. " E l i o t ' s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Explicator 9 (1951): item 38. Eleanor, Mary, Mother. " E l i o t ' s Magi." Renaissance 10 (1957): 26-31. E l l i o t , G.R., "T.S. E l i o t and Irving Babbitt," American Review 1 (1936): 442-54. E l l i s , Peter G. "T.S. E l i o t , F.H. 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